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Obstacles to needlestick prevention

July 31, 2014

The introduction of the EU Council Directive 2010/32/EU meant that all member states had to ensure they met with the standards and processes outlined in the legislation. For other leading countries, such as the US, there has been similar pieces of law describing and detailing how employes in the healthcare industry can protect their staff members from needlestick injuries. 

These pieces of legislation also address and identify steps that healthcare workers themselves can take to reduce the risk of suffering a percutaneous injury in the workplace, and that of those around them.

However, as with any significant change to processes, guidelines or protocol, there are obstacles and barriers that can make implementation difficult, challenging or almost impossible if they aren't identified, addressed and overcome.

Identifying the problems that could face an individual healthcare organisation is the first and most important stage, as this will allow the employers to put safeguards in place or find other ways to overcome the issues that may have or could occur.

Although each establishment is unique in the challenges it faces when met with the forced implementation of new legislation, there are common obstacles that are experienced by nearly all organisations in the healthcare sector, which can cause significant problems if they aren't addressed ahead of time.

Breaking old habits
For many hospitals, there are a large proportion of staff members that will have been within the organisation for a lengthy amount of time. These can sometimes pose a problem when it comes to introducing new legislation as old habits can be difficult to break. It can also be logistically challenging to know where to start with more experienced staff, as new members to the team can be easily trained during their probationary period.

Organisations can also find it difficult to identify ways to teach them the new process, within alienating them or making them feel as though their current work isn't valued. This can best be overcome by delivering them thorough education telling them why these new processes are being introduced and what makes it better than the previous standards.

Ensuring all staff members follow procedure
Global organisations, who may have hundreds of thousands of employees, can find it challenging to ensure that the new processes are being carried out to the high standard required. It can be easy to assume that, as long as the necessary steps have been taken where training is concerned, then the employer's role has been fulfilled. However, even if one member of a team is not doing one procedure in the specified way, this can impact the rest of the organisation, especially if they are around new or inexperienced employees. 

This can have a detrimental, snowball effect on the hospital as a whole but can easily be avoided. Human error is one of the biggest challenges felt by the healthcare industry but through comprehensive management and training processes, the chance of people not following the process is significantly reduced.

Introducing new practices smoothly
Both large and small organisations can dread the coming legislation as it can cause a loss of productivity as all members of staff need to be brought up to date. However, there are various measures that an employer can take to help make sure that each new recommended process or protocol is introduced smoothly. This can include everything from delegation to preparation and can make the role of the employer much easier, as well as minimising the amount of disruption felt in the wake of new legislation.
It is important when all new pieces of legislation are introduced that all members of staff are trained to meet the standards, despite the various obstacles. However, in terms of needlestick injury prevention, these laws can save healthcare workers from suffering such traumatic injuries and financial costs for the organisations. 

Related Legislation and Guidelines: