Proceedings of the National Sharps Injury Prevention Meeting, September 12, 2005, Crowe Plaa Atlanta Ariport Hotel, Atlanta, GA
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Proceedings of the National Sharps Injury Prevention Meeting, September 12, 2005, Crowe Plaa Atlanta Ariport Hotel, Atlanta, GA

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      Occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens as a result of injuries from needles and other sharp objects are an important public health concern. It is estimated that hospital-based healthcare personnel sustain 385,000 sharps injuries annually in the United States. Numerous risk factors and prevention strategies have been identified and implemented in order to reduce sharps injuries in healthcare settings. One notable prevention milestone was the passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2001. In response to this Act, OSHA revised the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. The revised standard clarifies the need for employers to select safer needle devices and to involve frontline employees in identifying and choosing these devices. The updated Standard also requires employers to maintain a log of injuries from contaminated sharps.

      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) convened a National Sharps Injury Prevention Meeting on September 12, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this meeting was to review sharps injury prevention efforts (particularly since the passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2001); identify gaps in prevention efforts; and assist CDC in creating a national action plan for eliminating sharps injuries in the United States. Nearly forty representatives from federal and state agencies, healthcare professional associations, healthcare facilities, medical device manufacturers, and other key stakeholder groups participated in the meeting. The meeting was funded by the CDC Foundation through an unrestricted education grant from the Safety Institute, Premier Inc.

      A series of presentations from representatives of CDC, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Safety Institute, Premier Inc.; and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provided detailed information about the epidemiology of sharps injuries, relevant surveillance systems, enforcement and regulatory efforts to prevent sharps injuries, education and training programs, and enhancements of sharps injury prevention program processes. In addition, each presenter was invited to comment on the presence of gaps in knowledge or prevention efforts as they pertained to the subject area of the presenter. These comments were used as a springboard for discussions about recognized knowledge and prevention gaps as well as efforts that are needed to address these gaps in order to eliminate sharps injuries.

      The principal outcome of the meeting was the formation of four working groups to address surveillance issues, human and organizational factors related to sharps injuries, education and training topics, and device development, implementation, and diffusion issues. Working groups were charged with identifying priority areas and action steps specific to their topic area. These topic-specific action plans will be combined into a National Sharps Injury Prevention Action Plan to be disseminated at a later date.

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