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Report highlights importance of EPINet

October 06, 2015

American Nurse Today has published a new report that looks at the ways to prevent injuries from needles and other medical sharps.

The document, which takes a brief look at how far sharps safety has come in the past few decades, highlights the importance of introducing EPINet to medical settings for protecting healthcare workers.

EPINet, which was first introduced in 1992, has been used as a tool to measure and analyse any incidents where healthcare workers are exposed to blood or body fluids. 

For the first time, the network gave hospitals and managers a database to gather information about the incidence of needlestick and medical sharp injuries in a specific place. Designed to help organisations find better ways to work and improve the safety of the working environment, the system makes it easier to identify areas where positive changes could be made.

The network aims to help decision makers identify safer devices, safer practices, and innovative approaches to reducing the number of occupational exposures to blood and body fluids.

Due to its early and significant success, EPINet is now available for free to all hospitals in the US through the International Safety Center. 

A key part of the network's strategy is that it helps identify exactly where infectious exposures are happening in a hospital. In addition, it enables managers to compare each incident to see what caused it and what measures could prevent a similar event from occurring in the future.

Reducing sharps injuries is a significant part of this drive to limit the amount of occupational exposures happening in each hospital. The most high-risk injuries are from contaminated sharps, with exposures, such as mucocutaneous splashes and splatters, being one of the most dangerous risks that healthcare workers can be vulnerable to.

The Ebola epidemic in west Africa last year highlights the importance of having a system in place to keep track of and analyse any exposures to bloodborne pathogens or incidents where this could have been possible.

With EPINet, hospitals of all sizes can accurately keep track of the number of healthcare workers who are being exposed to blood or bodily fluids.

Out of all sharps injuries that occur in hospitals, more than 40 per cent happen to nurses, according to data from EPINet.

Just this information can help hospital managers better know who to target primarily with training. Although anyone in the environment is at risk of suffering a needlestick injury, the evidence clearly indicates that nurses are more likely to sustain such an injury.

The report highlights the key measures hospitals can take to reduce the risk that nurses, and all other healthcare workers, are exposed to. 

Looking at the importance of safety-engineered devices, the document looks at the impact these instruments have had on the rate of sharps injuries.

It reads: "Since development of safety-engineered syringes, blood collection devices, and lancets, needlestick injuries and subsequent occupational illnesses, such as hepatitis B virus and HIV, have decreased markedly. 

"Extremely high-risk needlesticks from blood collection now account for only about 10 per cent of sharps injuries."

By looking at data from EPINet, hospitals can better determine the causes behind the injuries. For example, the report suggests that if people are being injured while using a safety device, it would indicate that training needs to be improved on how to use it. 

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