Editor’s note: This article is the first in a three-part series brought to you in partnership with the International Safety Center. Watch for the next two articles on blood and body fluid splashes and use of personal protective equipment, respectively.
Since 1992, hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the United States and the world have used the Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet®) as a tool to survey and measure occupational exposures to blood and body fluids. This network is designed to help you and your facility identify safer devices, safer practices, and innovative approaches to reducing occupational exposures to blood and body fluids. EPINet helps identify where infectious exposures are occurring in U.S. hospitals and allows you to compare them to what’s happening in your facility. The International Safety Center distributes EPINet free to hospitals to measure occupational exposures to blood and body fluid that cause illness and infection in the working population.
High-risk injuries from contaminated sharps and exposures, such as mucocutaneous splashes and splatters, pose an unparalleled risk to nurses. Infectious threats, such as Ebola virus, measles reemergence, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), require us to keep an ever-steady focus on surveying and measuring risk so we can mitigate and prevent it. EPINet allows us to do that.
Nurse injuries from sharp objects and needlesticks
For all sharps injuries occurring across all hospitals, 40.1% happen to nurses. The following statistics are from the most recent EPINet data (the 5-year period from 2009 to 2013).
Now that you know the facts, you can take steps to help eliminate needlestick injuries and encourage your employer to take action.
Nurses are creative, resourceful innovators. You can directly and positively affect your own life and the lives of your patients and colleagues. If you don’t consider yourself an innovator, look to those you think are. Use such resources as “Nurses leading through innovation” at www.theamericannurse.org/index.php/2012/06/06/nurses-leading-through-innovation/.
The authors work at the International Safety Center (InternationalSafetyCenter.org). Amber Hogan Mitchell is president and executive director. Ginger B. Parker is vice president and chief information officer.