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NSI safety reminders

May 13, 2015

Adhering to the right protocol and safety measures when handling needles and other medical sharps is essential for reducing the number of sharp injuries that happen to healthcare workers each year. 

It's important that medical settings and organisations take the necessary measures to ensure that all staff are fully trained and educated in these areas. This is crucial as it safeguards patients, employees and the wider organisation.

Although regular training is crucial, it's important that healthcare workers have prompts and reminders in their working environment to help them adhere to policies and guidelines throughout their working day.

This is because there can be significant periods between training sessions, especially if individuals are unable to attend certain ones. In addition, the busy, fast-paced and stressful nature of a hospital environment means that healthcare workers often feel rushed and short of time, so reminders and prompts can be a helpful way to ensure that best practice is always adhered to.

But what simple and quick reminders are there for sharps safety?

A needle is dangerous until it's disposed of 
A lot of needlestick injuries occur after use but before the sharp is disposed of in a suitable container. This can be a time when the healthcare worker's concentration lapses or they become distracted, or they simply think that the most dangerous bit is over. However, a needle is dangerous until it is safely disposed of. Having a poster near the sharps bin should help prompt them to adhere to policies. It's also a great place to have reminders about what makes a suitable container and when they should be emptied.

No question is a stupid question
New and inexperienced healthcare workers are at a much higher risk of suffering a needlestick injury, compared to their more experienced counterparts. Although this isn't necessarily something that you would want to display in posters in the general hospital area, it could be placed in a staff room or other areas where patients are not permitted. It's essential that all members of staff feel comfortable asking questions to their more experienced colleagues. This also helps encourage a culture of safety across the entire hospital, and promotes best practice.

As well as this, it's important for more experienced staff members to know they have a responsibility to guide newer colleagues.

Being prepared is being smart
Individuals can significantly reduce their risk of suffering a needlestick injury if they are prepared before and after the procedure. Patients can be unpredictable but having everything you need within reaching distance when taking blood or giving an injection can control the risk of something going wrong. This should be a key element of training sessions that are delivered to healthcare workers, and can be reinforced through prompts in staff rooms.

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