CDC conducts first-ever study on safety devices

Shows significant sharp drop in needlesticks

A three-year study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluating safety devices for phlebotomy, shows sharp reductions in the percutaneous injury (PI) rate when such safety devices were used.1

"This is the first study done by the CDC devoted to safety devices," notes Elise Jochimsen, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC. "We’ve looked at injuries in certain settings before, but this is the first time we’ve compared conventional devices to safety devices."

The study showed a decrease of up to 76% in the PI rate with the use of the Punctur-Guard safety device, manufactured by Bio-Plexus of Tolland, CT. (See chart, inserted in this issue.) The Venipuncture Needle-Pro, manufactured by Smith Industries, of Keene, NH, showed a 66% PI rate reduction. The Safety-Lok, manufactured by Becton Dickinson in Franklin Lakes, NJ, showed a 23% reduction in the PI rate. The Safety-Lok is a winged steel needle, the only non-vacuum-tube blood-collection device used in the study.

The Punctur-Guard had the highest incidence (44%) of health care workers noting technical difficulties or adverse patient effects as a result of the safety device. The manufacturer noted that the device has been modified since the study was completed.

Jochimsen notes that the study was not designed to compare safety devices to one another but instead to compare safety devices to traditional devices in use.

Each hospital conducted a "comprehensive training program for [health care workers] that included hands-on experience with the equipment." However, the specific training and its effect on the final outcomes were not considered in the study.

"We weren’t able to look at [the training period] in our analysis," notes Jochimsen. "The article mentions this is a factor that has to be considered in the results, that these health care workers were extensively trained in the use of the devices."


1. Mendelson M, Solomon R, et al. Evaluation of safety devices for preventing percutaneous injuries among health-care workers during phlebotomy procedures. Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, and San Francisco, 1993-1995. MMWR 1997; 56:21-25.