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In This Issue:
Needle Safety Advisory Committee
Caring for the health of others, especially in a top-rated hospital, requires a commitment unmatched by other professions. But that commitment also carries a risk.
Recognizing both concerns, BWH has emerged as a leader in the field of needle safety. The hospital initiated efforts in this area in 1999 and completed the first phase of implementation and standardization of needle safety devices well in advance of regulations being introduced. These efforts were undertaken to minimize employee exposures to blood-borne pathogens, such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
“Needle stick injuries can be devastating. If we can prevent health care providers from getting infected because of their work, we’ve done our job.” said Marlene Freeley, MS, RN, director of Occupational Health Services (OHS).
Since implementing the Needle Safety Program five years ago, the hospital has seen a 26 percent decrease in needle injuries. “We attribute our successes to efforts on several fronts over the last five years,” said Katherine Twitchell, MS, RN, CS, Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner and chair of the Needle Safety Advisory Committee. “Key among these have been firm management support at all levels, a growing culture of needle safety awareness and the introduction of needle-safety devices,” said Twitchell.
The Needle Safety program has concentrated on supporting clinicians in the field with the creation of a 24-hour “STIK” beeper hotline, which offers immediate evaluation and treatment in the case of contact with blood and body fluids. Through this 24/7 program, employees are given prompt access to a clinician specially trained in the management of exposures, and afforded with the highest quality of occupational health care. Another significant improvement was the development of a dedicated web site to serve as an important resource for clinicians to learn about needle safety products and to be able to get answers to their questions.
“Going forward, the Needle Safety Advisory Committee has established several goals for reducing high-risk incidents, the two primary ones focusing on suture and syringe injuries,” explained Twitchell. “We are pleased with the growing awareness of needle safety, but also very committed to staying on the forefront of this issue,” she said.