New measures to track sharps injuries have been introduced in the US.

Friday March 31 2017

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the US is introducing new measures to enable the healthcare industry to keep better track of sharps injuries and potential cases of blood contamination.

The body has announced the release of two new modules for its Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN), which is a free system designed to collect data of incidents and injuries sustained in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, with needlestick injuries to be added to the database for the first time.

By collecting data on needle injuries, healthcare leaders will be able to see which medical professionals are most at risk of being exposed to potentially life-threatening blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C in their work, as these are major risks associated with sharps injuries.

As a result, the NIOSH and other healthcare leaders can use this information to develop interventions to improve sharps safety standards to safeguard the health of hospital staff, such as by investing in safety syringes. These specialist devices are designed to prevent used or broken needles from being used, subsequently preventing the transmission of infections from person to person.

What's more, keeping track of data on sharps injuries will allow authorities to measure their progress and impact over time, which could potentially lead to the introduction of more preventative measures in the future.

John Howard, director of the NIOSH, commented: "An annual survey of OHSN users shows overwhelming support for a system that helps mitigate high-risk aspects of the healthcare industry and guides prevention efforts.

"A commitment to a culture of safety that emphasises continuous monitoring and improvement benefits not only the worker, but the employer as well."

The OHSN system is already used to collect and track information relating to slips, trips and falls in US hospitals, as well as injuries sustained during patient handling and from workplace violence.

Alongside data on sharps injuries, information on blood and body fluid exposures will also now be tracked, with healthcare workers able to use the system voluntarily to do their bit to drive up safety standards across the industry.

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