Sharps Injuries Decline But Not Enough Following Law

A recent study that examined the rates of sharps injuries in California hospitals before and after implementation in 1999 of the California bloodborne pathogens standard, found that the injury rate per 100 staffed beds fell from 17.51 in 1997 to 14.97 in 2001.

"The rate of sharps injuries appear to be declining in California following widespread adoption of safer devices," said Marion Gillen of the University of California San Francisco, though she found the rates higher than she would have anticipated given widespread adoption of the engineering control.

Gillen added that in observations of health care workers, needles were removed, broken or recapped in 66 instances and blood was transferred unsafely from a syringe to a avacutainer or bottle in 152 instances. The team also witnessed safety syringes being incorrectly activated in 22 percent of the observations.

Only 14 percent of the hospitals had a procedure for involving employees in safety device selection and testing.

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