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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
A hundred hospitals have joined a fledgling system to track needlesticks and other health care injuries, the first such national surveillance since 2007. The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) enables hospitals to compare their needlestick rates with other, similar hospitals, using an online reporting system that is updated monthly.
The system, launched a year ago by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also tracks slips, trips and falls, patient handing injuries, and workplace violence.
Slips, trips and falls surpass the other injuries in both number and rate, making them the most common hazard for hospital employees. The OHSN reporting enables hospitals to see where the injuries are occurring and to compare their data with other hospitals nationally, regionally, and of a similar size.
For years, hospitals have faced mandates to report hospital-acquired infections and other patient safety measures. OHSN is voluntary but it represents the most significant tracking of employee health and safety to date.
It is important to have that counterbalance, emphasizing overall safety in hospitals, says Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH, project officer for OHSN. “We believe you cannot achieve patient safety without worker safety,” he says.
For more on this story see the Oct. 2014 issue of Hospital Employee Health