An institutional review of sharps injuries was conducted to assist in establishing priorities for resource allocation in a sharps prevention program.
A retrospective review of 221 sharps injuries occurring during a 1-year period was conducted by a 4-member multidisciplinary team. Each injury was categorized as either moderate/high, low, or unknown risk for acquisition of bloodborne diseases by using modified provincial definitions of occupational risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
A total of 119 injuries were considered to be moderate/high risk, and 93 were at low risk for acquisition of bloodborne disease. Nine injuries could not be categorized. In 59% of high-risk injuries, education or changes in technique were identified as the primary preventive intervention. Passive devices such as needleless intravenous administration sets could theoretically address prevention of the majority of low-risk injuries. Known available safety devices could have prevented 33 (28%) high-risk injuries.
Disposition of resources must take into consideration the risk of bloodborne disease acquisition and the efficiency and expense of the preventable methods employed. Institutional review of injuries combined with a cost analysis revealed that resources were best allocated to protective devices at source (eg, safety syringes) and on a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and sustained educational program. Needleless intravenous infusion sets would mainly prevent low-risk injuries at significant cost.
Comment In: Am J Infect Control. 2000 Aug;28(4):321-210926712