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Cost of safety devices is shortsighted

August 20, 2015

For healthcare organisations, protecting the health and safety of their employees is of the highest priorities. However, this needs to be weighed up against running costs and trying to stick within budgets.

The implementation of safety devices can be a challenge because of this, as the upfront cost of high-quality instruments is usually more expensive than traditional needles and syringes. However, just looking at and comparing initial costs is not a fair comparison, a new report claims.

Published on Vanish Point, it says to look at just these expenses is "shortsighted and erroneous". In order to properly evaluate the advantages and disadvantages, it's important to take others costs into consideration.

The report reads: "A much more realistic approach should include the cost of tests to see if accidental needlestick injury victims acquire a bloodborne disease as a result of the injury. In addition, the cost of safe disposal of the syringe should be included."

This is a crucial part of sharps safety and should be a key driver behind policies to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries. In addition, the potential costs of having healthcare workers take time off work because of the emotional stress associated with suffering a needlestick injury should also be calculated.

Research has found that this emotional stress is present even when there has been no exposure to a bloodborne disease. 

Safety devices are an efficient way to prevent percutaneous injuries from occurring in the first place. Both inactive and active instruments can reduce the risk of any healthcare worker suffering an injury from a needle or another medical sharp.

This is increasingly important in the aftermath of the recent ebola epidemic. West Africa saw first hand how quickly bloodborne pathogens can spread, with many healthcare workers in the area putting themselves at risk to treat and help people suspected to have been exposed to the disease.

In light of this, organisations should ensure they take sharps safety seriously and ensure that healthcare workers have all the resources and training they need to reduce their risk. This also has an impact on patient care, as sharps safety not only protects staff working with medical sharps, but also reduces the chance of patients suffering a needlestick injury.

When the costs of testing, healthcare worker absences, disposal and other expenditures of suffering medical sharps injuries are calculated, investing in safety devices becomes the most cost-effective option.

Employers also have a moral obligation to safeguard their staff and ensure they are able to carry out their work in a safe environment.

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