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Needlestick prevention could save US healthcare $1 billion

October 30, 2013

It has been estimated that needlestick injuries affect more than half a million healthcare workers every year, in the US alone. However, it has now been estimated that, if this number was reduced, the American healthcare system would save itself $1 billion every year. This figure doesn't even factor in the prevention of the emotional effects of suffering such an injury.

This is according to a Safe in Common (SIC) review of US healthcare industry statistics. The non-profit organisation studied the number of needlestick injuries in the country and then estimated the cost of this to the nation's healthcare system, in a bid to add support for its on-going campaign to promote advanced safety engineered devices and work practices that can reduce the risk of needlestick injuries. 

SIC estimated that around 1,000 people suffer percutaneous injuries per day in America's hospitals alone. This adds $1 billion to the healthcare system's annual costs in an area that could be preventable. 

The organisation then used the most recent CDC reports to estimate the cost for every victim that suffers a needlestick injury, this results in a cost of of $3,042 per victim each year. The costs are attributed to laboratory fees for testing exposed employees, labor associated with testing and counseling, and the costs of post-exposure follow-ups.

Speaking for Safe in Common, chairperson Mary Foley said: "These completely preventable injuries, needless cost burdens on the healthcare system and psychological trauma inflicted on personnel is startling when safer equipment and smarter work practices are available to personnel across the healthcare spectrum."

Highlighting the importance of implementing adequate safety-engineered devices, Ms Foley said that, by combining these devices with relevant education and techniques, needlestick and sharp injuries could become a "never event".

This would save the healthcare industry billions in a time when administrators and government agents are trying to make savings and cut back costs wherever possible.

"The desperate need for attention to the risk of needlestick injuries and their dangerous implications for both patients and personnel are startling when you look directly at the impact to healthcare costs," Ms Foley adds.

She concluded that SIC is "highlighting the costs of ignoring safety engineered devices to avoid these needless injuries", adding that it is "essential that we garner support at every level within the healthcare industry to ensure that healthcare personnel are protected".

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