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December is the International Sharps Injury Prevention Awareness Month

December 05, 2013

Cold and flu season is just around the corner, meaning that many hospitals and healthcare centres are seeing an influx of patients that need to have a procedure that involves needlesticks.

An increase in patients also means that there is a heightened risk of healthcare workers being exposed to needlesticks and other sharps, which increases the risk of them being injured in the workplace. 

The International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS) announced that the 12th Annual International Sharps Injury Prevention Awareness Month will take place throughout December. The organisation is using the opportunity to remind the healthcare community of the importance of being educated about needlestick and sharps-related issues. 

Safe in Common is also supporting the event to get closer to their goal of making these traumatic incidents “never events”. The group are joining the ISIPS to try and educate the healthcare sector in this area by encouraging hospitals, medical offices and other healthcare centres to further their knowledge with sharps safety information. 

It has long been thought by many campaigners that needlestick and other sharp injuries are preventable and such incidents could become a thing of the past with enough education and adoption of the right devices and practices. 

Research has shown that over 80 per cent of needlestick injuries can be prevented through the use of safer devices. Healthcare workers are too often becoming patients themselves after being injured by contaminated medical sharps. However, it is not just those directly involved that are at risk as cleaning staff, housekeeping staff, paramedics, law enforcement workers, and firemen, can also be injured in the workplace.

Ron Stoker, executive director of ISIPS, said: "We need to provide proper medical devices that protect the healthcare worker as well as providing treatment to patients. We believe that the occupational hazards for healthcare workers have been underestimated on a global basis. 

"Sharps injuries create an enormous health and economic problem even without subsequent infection. There are increasing numbers of incidents where workers are pricked by needles or other sharp instruments that may have been in contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Most of these injuries can be prevented."

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