The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) STOP STICKS campaign is intended to increase healthcare organizations’ safety culture, and to motivate healthcare workers to practice safety when using hypodermic needles and other sharp instruments, all known as “sharps”. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “a sharps injury is a penetrating stab wound from a needle, scalpel, or other sharp object that may result in exposure to blood or other body fluids.” These injuries often occur in healthcare occupation with the requisite use of needles, syringes and scalpels.
Sharps injuries involve possible exposure to illness and life-threatening diseases; as such, they create complications for healthcare facilities as well as the injured worker. These complications include:
- Loss of work time;
- Required investigation of the injury;
- Laboratory testing expenses;
- Cost of treatment should staff become infected;
- Cost of replacing staff;
- Anxiety and distress;
- Long-term testing;
- Potentially invasive testing; and
- Potential disability and/or death.
According to the CDC, an estimated 385,000 sharps-related injuries are suffered by U.S. healthcare workers annually. According to an Occupational Health and Safety (OH & S) magazine article, of the total sharps injuries reported in 2007, 322 were suffered by RNs or LPNs and 308 were suffered by physicians. The types of sharp devices which caused the highest number of injuries included suture needles, winged steel needles, and disposable syringes. Sharps injuries are typically caused by disposal-related activities and activities after-use but before disposal. Patients and hospital visitors may also be injured by “sharps” while in a hospital or other health care facility.
Workers whose occupations involve the use of potentially dangerous materials must be extremely careful when using and/or disposing of them. In addition, hospitals, surgery-centers and doctors offices need to provide and/or institute safeguards to minimize the risk of injury.
If you have suffered an injury in New Jersey as the result of contact with a “sharp”, the experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Blume Forte can help evaluate your claim and determine a possible course of legal action. To find out if you may have a meritorious case, contact us for a no-cost consultation at 973-635-5400.