OSHA offers guidance on avoiding needlestick injury

LETTER — Posted June 28, 2004

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Regarding "Campaign targets needlestick injuries" (Article, March 22/29): Your article reports that many health care organizations have failed to comply with the laws regarding prevention of accidental needlesticks. The issue of needlestick injury receives little press and continues to be a significant problem.

We all need to participate in solving this problem by reducing needle exposures and taking advantage of recent technological advances aimed at reducing injury.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has newly released a document to improve awareness of this issue and provide alternatives. It is called "Fact Sheet: Securing Medical Catheters," and outlines hazards related to the use of suture needles and tape to secure catheters.

This fact sheet is available on OSHA's Web site (link).

It is essential that both clinicians and health care organizations become better informed about new safety technology.

Changing habits is difficult, but there are safer approaches available now that can help to reduce the disturbingly high number of accidental needlesticks that continue to plague us.

This is true even for such seemingly mundane procedures such as inserting and securing a catheter, because these procedures remain a common source of potentially deadly accidental needlesticks.

Gregory J. Schears, MD, Rochester, Minn.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/06/28/edlt0628.htm.

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