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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


     

Independent Study Results Show Need for Improvement of Infection Control Products

In May 2006, an independent online study was performed by the Atlanta-based Arketi Group and sponsored by Inviro Medical in order to assess the opinions of those in the infection control arena regarding needlestick injuries and the available infection control products that aim to prevent them. This is an important issue facing the medical industry; according to a recent article in Infection Control Today, “healthcare workers sustain between 600,000 and one million injuries from conventional needles and sharps annually.”[1]

The 2006 Study of Needlestick Injuries and Safety Devices polled 147 directors of infection control (DICs) and 188 nurses in two phases and asked questions revolving around four main areas. The results of this study highlighted the concerns these two groups continue to have despite six years of legislation regarding infection control. The study also pinpointed some important concerns that nurses and DICs share about the current infection control products available on the market, as well as their concerns about needlestick injuries and the effects on them and their patients.

The Study Results

According to the study, 64% of all U.S. nurses have been accidentally stuck by a needle while working, and 47% of those surveyed had been stuck by a needle that was contaminated, with 9% saying they had been stuck four or more times with a contaminated needle. In addition, 82% of DICs nationwide believe that accidental needlestick injuries remain a significant, serious hazard, despite the existence of infection control products on the market today.

A clear majority of U.S. DICs surveyed say they worry about accidental needlestick injuries among clinicians – and this concern is second only to back strains as an occupational hazard. Meanwhile, among nurses, 70% worry about accidental needlesticks—more so than other concerns, including back strains, splashes, and falls.  

Unfortunately, needlestick injuries continue to go unreported, according to 63% of DICs and 86% of nurses. Survey respondents gave a range of answers as to why. Just under a majority (45%) of DICs said that they believe people are simply “too busy” to make a report. Other reasons included “follow up time takes too long,” “afraid of consequences to job,” “afraid of reporting to health insurance,” and, less commonly, “forgetfulness.” Nurses’ responses varied slightly, with more nurse respondents than DICs concerned about workplace consequences.

Significantly, three out of 10 DICs believe clinicians do not always engage the needlestick safety mechanism. The reasons why nurses fail to use infection control products properly, nearly a majority (48%) responded that “it’s not a priority,” with clinicians being “too busy with patients” as the second-most-popular response (46%).

When asked what could be done to protect healthcare workers from needlestick injuries, 42% of DICs recommended better infection control products or equipment. Other DIC respondents cited additional training, more time for patients and procedures, more organizational focus and support, and more nurses and staff as additional ways to fight the problem of accidental needlestick injuries.

More tellingly, nearly all DICs (97%) and nurses (96%) surveyed said there was room for improvement in the design of current infection control products, with 70% of DICs and 65% of nurses stating that retro-fitted designs of safety syringes, which currently account for over 90% of the market, do not present the best form of protection nor the best design in general. Both groups offered suggestions for improvement to these infection control products, including the creation of designs that allow hands and fingers to stay behind the needle while activating the safety mechanism (the number one answer for DICs, with 80% selecting this response); products that permanently disable  the syringe after the safety mechanism is activated (the number one answer for nurses, with 72% selecting this response); infection control products where the safety feature is integral to the syringe’s overall design; a design that allows for the use of one hand; products that do not require add-on pieces, such as sheaths, shields, or caps; and designs that allow the needle to withdraw into the barrel.

Finally, when looking at the healthcare industry as a whole, 64% of nurses surveyed said that the industry has some shortcomings, but is strong overall, and 74% of DICs agreed. Only 1% of both nurses and DICs said that the industry has never been healthier, indicating that there is a great deal of room for improvement. In addition, nearly two-thirds of DIC respondents say they plan to increase spending on infection control products and infection control in general in 2006, with the largest number, 32%, saying they plan to increase their spending by 6 to 10% or more. And 9% of DICs say they plan to increase spending by over 50%.

Clearly, there is room for manufacturers of infection control products to make improvements in order to protect the health of those in the medical field and those seeking treatment, as the large number of nurses who continue to suffer accidental needlestick injuries shows. It is also evident from the results of this study that education about needlestick injuries must be improved, as far too many incidents go unreported, for reasons that could readily be resolved. As spending increases, there may be room in the budgets of decision makers to try new and innovative infection control products that aim to decrease needlestick injuries in innovative ways. Listening to those that use infection control products on a daily basis and offering them input into future designs may be one part of the solution.

    

Background on the Survey

The breakdown of the backgrounds of the respondents is as follows:

DICs:

  • 35% have been a DIC less than five years
  • 22% have been a DIC for more than 15 years
  • 80% have credentials as an RN
  • 95% are female

Nurses:

  • 14% have been a nurse less than five years
  • 51% have been nurses for more than 15 years
  • 91% have credentials as an RN
  • 89% are female

The margin of error for the study is plus or minus 5%.

About the Author

Karen Dunlap, the senior vice president, global business development, at Inviro Medical Devices has extensive experience providing sales leadership for medical technology companies. Before joining Inviro, Karen was the executive vice president at New Medical Technologies, Inc., a safety syringe device manufacturer. For a complete copy of the needlestick study results, or to learn more about Inviro’s line of infection control products, including the InviroSNAP! safety syringe, please visit www.inviromedical.com


[1] Pyrek, Kelly M. “Roundtable Assembles Thought Leaders on Sharps Safety.” Infection Control Today August 2006: 34-36.