In 56% of needlesticks involving safety devices, the protective mechanism was not activated, the International Safety Center's Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet) reports.

It also is important to activate the safety device to protect downstream handlers of medical waste, emphasizes Amber Mitchell, DrPH, MPH, CPH, director of the International Safety Center and EPINet.

Nurses continue to be at the sharp end of the needle, comprising 39% of reported needlesticks and injuries in recently released EPINet surveillance data. The analysis of 2015 data also revealed that for the first time, suture injuries exceeded disposable syringe needle injuries, underscoring the importance of blood exposures in the OR and ED, she notes.

For non-sharps injuries, eye splashes were the most prevalent exposure type, at 70%. Since reported eye protection is at 7%, these mucocutaneous exposures remain a transmission risk.

The Safety Center is actively recruiting new healthcare systems and hospitals into the EPINet network both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to the approximately 2,000 facilities that use EPINet in the U.S. today, there are nearly 40 foreign-language versions of EPINet forms available, she says.

“We do this so that other nations can build programs similar to the ones in use in the U.S.,” Mitchell says. “Collecting and reporting data is a critical way to illustrate where injuries and exposures are occurring so that healthcare [facilities] can create policies as well as [use] safer devices and PPE to prevent them.”

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