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Obstacles to raising awareness

June 30, 2014

Preventative legislation often includes healthcare organisations taking certain steps to ensure all employees realise the risks and measures to take to reduce their danger. Raising awareness is an integral part of any health and safety protocol but there are certain issues that can make implementing a new strategy challenging.

Unreliable data
With the recent introduction of the EU Needlestick Legislation, many hospitals within the Member States will have had to ensure they have sufficient processes in place to raise awareness about the risks and dangers of needlestick injuries. However, it is widely noted that many needlestick injuries (NSIs) go unreported. This has multiple ramifications for the healthcare industry, especially when trying to introduce preventative measures.

Many experts agree that the massive underreporting of injuries from medical sharps is masking the real scale of the issue. This means many healthcare workers are unaware of how common they are in the workplace. 

Introducing new measures or protocols is difficult for any large organisations. Raising awareness about the risks of suffering a needlestick injury often means training new and old members of staff, as well providing them with educational material and repeating this training at appropriate intervals.

This poses a massive challenge for organisations that will need to reserve the correct levels of funding and time into ensuring each member of staff is equipped with the appropriate level of training and education.

Bad habits
Whenever healthcare organisations are trying to implement new protocols, and the measures to support them, there are various challenges from both new and old staff. Workers who have had a number of years or decades of experience may have more difficulty changing their habits. What they have been doing over their career has worked for them so far, so it can be difficult to encourage them to follow the new processes.

New staff, by their very nature, haven't had decades of experience and are reasonably blank canvases. However, this makes them more impressionable to peers. If they see more experienced workers neglecting to follow the measures they are unlikely to follow the protocols themselves.

Overcoming challenges
Where all these obstacles are concerned, preparation and planning are key to overcoming them. Although reliable data cannot be found for the level of needlestick injuries, through training it is possible to explain to all healthcare workers the dangers of suffering such incidents. Comprehensive and regular training and education programmes can also help to ensure experienced members of staff follow new protocols. By explaining why these latest measures are more appropriate for the workplace and why, an organisation can help raise awareness, which should encourage workers to change their methods.

This should also help influence newer members of staff. By having more experienced workers following the correct protocol, they set a solid example to their peers and colleagues, further encouraging them to follow the new procedures.