Helping Those Who Help Others

Health and Safety Authority

A patient enters the hospital. Upon first treatment, it's impossible for nurses to tell if the person is carrying one of 40 infectious diseases that include HIV or hepatitis B or C. Such is the risk posed by needlestick injuries (NSIs.) In the EU, more than a million occur every year.1 They have been described as one of the most serious health and safety threats in European workplaces, with a low incidence due to underreporting.

Now, thousands of these healthcare workers have reason to feel more protected the next time they perform a venipuncture, administer an injection or handle clinical waste. A new directive for the EU, adopted by the European Council of Ministers in 2010 and passed by the European Commission as legislation in May 2013, obliges healthcare organizations to adopt comprehensive measures for achieving the safest possible working environment. 

Facilities across the EU must now identify and assess risks from sharps injuries, properly train personnel and deploy safety-engineered medical devices. Independent studies have shown that these devices, such as those developed by BD, can prevent more than 80% of NSIs.2

Since the directive was adopted, BD-a pioneer in the field of clinical safety has provided guidance to EU healthcare systems in: 

  • Assessing NSI risks and advising on safety procedures
  • Administering training and information awareness
  • Enabling incident reporting and follow-up

Safety initiatives such as this may help relieve an economic burden to healthcare systems as well. The annual costs of immediate management, missed work and long-term treatment for NSI-transmitted illnesses have been estimated from €6 million for France, to £300 million for England and Wales3 to $188.5 million for the U.S.4

Says Fiona Garin, Director, Market Development for Healthcare Worker Safety at BD, "People really want to work together to reduce occurrences of NSIs. Our vision is that this initiative will help make the clinical environment a much safer place for caregivers-and in turn enable them to treat patients with more confidence."

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