Non-profit group raising awareness about needlestick injuries

Safe in Common, a non-profit organization of healthcare safety advocates, has announced that its Needlestick Safety Advocacy Tour will visit more than 50 U.S. hospitals and attend more than a dozen healthcare conferences across 36 metropolitan centers during the coming 12 months. The group’s message is that federal standards for needlestick prevention are largely inadequate and that safer devices and other measures are needed to maximize protection to those at risk of harm.

The group noted that 5.6 million healthcare personnel in the United States are put at risk every day of occupational exposure to HIV, hepatitis C and other life-threatening blood-borne diseases via transmission modes such as needlestick injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nurses sustain approximately half of all needlestick injuries; however, physicians, housekeeping and maintenance staff, technicians and administrators are also harmed.

Mary Foley, PhD, RN, chairperson of Safe in Common, issued the following statement: "As president of the American Nursing Association during the adoption of the Federal Needlestick Prevention Act in 2000, I was honored to have helped our industry take a vital first step toward protecting healthcare personnel at risk of injury. But we must now come together again to help finish the job. I firmly believe that every needlestick injury is preventable with the right equipment, the right procedures and the right culture. I encourage all U.S. healthcare personnel to join me in the signing of the Safe in Common Pledge."

The pledge states, “I pledge to support Safe in Common in its campaign to promote and strengthen the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, raise awareness of needlestick safety and utilize safer engineering controls to protect me and my fellow healthcare personnel from unnecessary needlestick injuries.”

"The risk of contracting a blood-borne disease from a needlestick injury was one of my greatest fears during my 25 year career in nursing," said Nancy Purcell-Holmes, RN, healthcare safety advocate for Safe in Common. "Millions of healthcare personnel continue to share my concern today. It is unacceptable that so many of my colleagues remain at significant risk of sustaining a needlestick injury, despite government enforcement of federal standards mandating the use of safety-engineered medical equipment and other measures within healthcare facilities. Safe in Common looks forward to engaging with healthcare personnel across the U.S. to listen to their injection safety concerns and raise industry awareness about ways in which we can work together to move beyond compliance and deliver true protection for all those at risk of needlestick injuries."

The Unilife Corporation, a U.S.-based developer and manufacturer of advanced drug delivery systems, is sponsoring Safe in Common and the Needlestick Safety Advocacy Tour.

"A new generation of safety-engineered medical equipment has been developed and launched during the last decade," said Alan Shortall, the company's CEO. "Products with passive and fully integrated safety features in particular can minimize the risk of needlestick injury to a healthcare worker. It is time to make healthcare personnel more aware of these safer, simpler products."