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Needlestick Injuries, Workplace Safety Are Top Nurse Concerns

According to a new American Nurse Association (ANA) survey, two-thirds of U.S. nurses remain concerned about needlestick injuries and blood-borne infections, and more than half believe their workplace safety climate negatively impacts their own personal safety.

ANA released these findings from the 2008 Study of Nurses’ Views on Workplace Safety and Needlestick Injuries, an independent nationwide survey of more than 700 nurses.

“An overwhelming majority of nurses (87 percent) say safety concerns influence their decisions about the type of nursing they do and their continued practice in the field. This study exemplifies the serious concerns expressed by nurses across the country,” said ANA President Rebecca M. Patton.

According to Patton, these concerns could prompt nurses to leave the bedside and exacerbate the growing nurse shortage. She said improvements must be made in the workplace environment and staffing levels to enhance the safety climate for all healthcare workers.

The study indicated that the majority of nurses say increasing workloads and workplace stress levels impact workplace safety. Nearly 60 percent of nurses said that when the pressure mounts, they feel the need to work faster, even if it means taking shortcuts. And 82 percent of nurses said they put patient care before their own personal safety.

Needlestick Injuries

Sixty-four percent of nurses reported being accidentally struck by a needle while working. Among those who reported such injuries, 74 percent were struck with a contaminated needle.

The three most common circumstances surrounding needlestick injuries included while nurses gave an injection (28 percent), before activating the safety feature (19 percent) and during the disposal of a non-safety device (19 percent).

While 91 percent of nurses reported they are familiar with their workplace protocol regarding needlestick injuries, only 79 percent of those accidentally struck by a needle say they reported the incident, compared to 83 percent in 2006. Three-quarters of nurses believe needlesticks still are underreported.

Nearly half of those who were struck indicated they received an evaluation or were treated within 1-2 hours after their most recent needlestick injury. Nine percent said they were treated within 4 hours; 2 percent within the first 8 hours; 3 percent the next day; and 1 percent more than 24 hours afterwards.

Sixty-two percent of nurses believe it would be beneficial to receive more information about needlestick injury prevention.

Safety Syringes

The study results showed that in most cases, safety syringes are readily available for nurses’ use. Only 3 percent said such syringes were not available in their healthcare facilities.

  • Nurses, however, said they would improve the design of current safety syringes in the following ways:
  • Hands and fingers able to stay behind the needle when activating the safety mechanism;
  • The syringe permanently is disabled after the safety mechanism is activated;
  • The needle withdraws into the barrel;
  • The safety feature is integral to the design of the syringe; and
  • The syringes do not include any add-on pieces such as sheaths, shields or caps.

“This study spotlights cause for concern when those individuals most susceptible to on-the-job needlestick injuries are not a part of the selection and evaluation process for sharp safety devices,” says Gareth Clarke, chief executive officer of Inviro Medical Devices, a support provider for the study. “Yet, we know that 74 percent of the nurses surveyed say they would not consider working for an employer which does not provide safety syringes.”

The survey also touched on other issues, showing that 86 percent of nurses support universal healthcare, and that 97 percent of nurses would be inclined to recommend a safety syringe if it created less medical waste compared to competitive products.

For more information, visit ANA’s Web site at

TAGS: Archive Safety
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