Needlestick and sharps injuries affect more than half a million healthcare personnel every year, creating more than $1 billion in preventable healthcare costs every year and an immeasurable emotional toll on millions of healthcare personnel, according to a Safe in Common review of U.S. healthcare industry statistics.
Safe in Common (SIC)—a non-profit organization that represents healthcare personnel, industry leaders, policymakers and scientists —studied rates and costs of needlestick injuries within U.S. healthcare facilities as part of its ongoing work to raise awareness of advanced safety engineered devices and work practices that can prevent these injuries.
After examining the findings from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System, SIC determined approximately 1,000 percutaneous injuries per day in U.S. hospitals alone adds $1 billion in unnecessary annual costs. Cross referenced with the most recent CDC reports of the cost to treat healthcare personnel, that amounts to an estimated $3,042 per victim each year. The costs are attributed to laboratory fees for testing exposed employees, labor associated with testing and counseling, and the costs of post-exposure follow-ups.
"These completely preventable injuries, needless cost burdens on the healthcare system and psychological trauma inflicted on personnel is startling when safer equipment and smarter work practices are available to personnel across the healthcare spectrum," said Safe in Common Chairperson Mary Foley, PhD, RN.
Ways to reduce risk
Foley said that introducing adequate safety-engineered devices and providing education and techniques can help make needlestick and sharps injuries a "never event," saving a significant amount in avoidable healthcare costs at a time when healthcare administrators and government agents are trying to contain and roll back escalating costs.
"The desperate need for attention to the risk of needlestick injuries and their dangerous implications for both patients and personnel are startling when you look directly at the impact to healthcare costs," Foley added. "Learning how to permanently prevent these types of injuries—with more education and the introduction of advanced safety devices—will ultimately reduce a significant cost burden and, most importantly, the pain and emotional trauma that the needlestick victims and their families are enduring."
Ignoring safety devices
"At a time when healthcare personnel are forced to wear Kevlar-gloves to protect their hands from needlestick, we're highlighting the costs of ignoring safety engineered devices to avoid these needless injuries," Foley said. "It is essential that we garner support at every level within the healthcare industry to ensure that healthcare personnel are protected."
Recent efforts undertaken by Safe in Common to call attention to these life-threatening injuries and critical prevention techniques include the June 2013 introduction of the "Top 10 Golden Rules of Safety"—a set of safety device guidelines that were outlined in conjunction with industry experts to create an immediate and unified approach to strengthening laws and requiring passive and integrated safety products where available.
For more information about Safe in Common and the Organization's ongoing commitment to needlestick safety and safer engineering controls, visit http://www.safeincommon.org.
About Safe in Common
Safe in Common is a non-profit organization established to enhance and save the lives of U.S. healthcare personnel at risk of harm from needlestick injuries. It is led by Chairperson Mary Foley, PhD, RN, former president of the American Nursing Association and other industry leaders. To learn more about the Needlestick Safety Pledge and its goal of promoting and strengthening the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, go to www.facebook.com/safeincommon, and follow Safe in Common on Twitter at www.twitter.com/safeincommon.