enable them to establish safer practice with regard to the
use, care and disposal of sharp items.
How can sharps safety be approached
Taylor: Improving the culture of safety within healthcare
is essential to prevent or reduce injuries. Safety cultures
consist of shared beliefs, practices and attitudes which
shape our behavior. However, a culture of safety created
and sustained by just the nursing staff will not be considered legitimate if the culture excludes other groups
within the hospital. It will not be valued and accepted —
nor will it facilitate improved safety throughout the
hospital or OR. A team/multidisciplinary approach to
sharps safety is crucial for success. Safety is everyone’s
responsibility. Working with other hospital staff, including
front line workers from a variety of services, including
surgeons, ensures that needed resources, expertise,
and perspectives are included in the selection and
acceptance of safety devices and education of
What are common errors in sharps
Taylor: Believing that simply mandating the use of
safety engineered devices will result in decreased
injuries. Just having the sharps safety device on the
shelf does not equate to use, proper use, nor reduction in injury. The December 2012 EPINet Report
for Needlestick and Sharp Object Injuries reported
that safety devices were implicated in 36 percent of
reported injuries and non-engineered safety devices
in 60 percent. When the safety device was used,
it was fully activated in 10 percent of the injuries,
partially activated in 23 percent of the injuries and
not activated in 65 percent of the injuries. Additionally EPINet reported that when the safety device was
used, 50 percent of the injuries occurred before the
device was activated, 35 percent occurred during
activation, and 23 percent of injuries occurred after
Education, acceptance and engagement of staff on
the use of safety devices as well as selection of safer,
user-friendly safety devices and focused work practice
controls are critical to reduce injury.
What do we know about blood-borne
pathogens and sharps safety?
Taylor: Campaigns from the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health
Organization (WHO) have increased awareness
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that sharps injuries are primarily associated with
occupational transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV),
hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV), and may also be implicated in the
transmission of more than 20 other pathogens.
Furthermore, the CDC estimates hospital-based
healthcare workers in the United States suffer more
than 384,000 sharps injuries each year, or more than
1,000 sharps injuries every day.
How has technology reacted to support
Taylor: Through the voice of the customer, technology
has evolved with more intuitive safety devices that
are better, safer and more user-friendly than previous