It seems that in this day and time, with all of the technology available, needle stick injuries should be close to zero. Last year my institution had close to 250 needle stick incidents. We are told that we have top-of-the line equipment, which is very expensive. We have IV catheters and butterfly needles that utilize a button to retract the needle from the patient into the device. We continue to use a modified device where the user flips a cover over the needle tip that should click when secure. Scalpels have a plastic slide that is pushed over blade and also clicked into place.
The best technology has to be used appropriately, though. I know of nurses who didn\'t activate the button properly on an IV catheter and were stuck with contaminated needles. I know of nurses being stuck with clean blunt tip needles. Granted, they were clean, but the possibility of being stuck with a dirty sharp is still there. There is no shield on the blunt tip needles because they are supposed to be used only for syringe filling from vials. I am also aware of nurses being stuck while trying to dispose of their needles in sharps containers. This could be by a sharp that wasn\'t covered prior to being placed in the box. In one particular case it was the tubing from a butterfly needle that wasn\'t allowing the sharps box to work properly. It wasn\'t dropping the sharp as it is designed to do.
There are examples of individuals that didn\'t use the device as it was designed. They essentially were the ones who endangered themselves, but what about when others put the nurse in danger? I work in the ER where nurses, techs, MD\'s, and even housekeepers are at risk for needle sticks multiple times per day. Nurses or techs set up trays for various procedures that require needles and scalpels. Once the physician is done, he/she typically leaves the "dirty tray" where it was???used sharps and all. It is left for someone else to clean up. Now someone else is at risk for a needle stick injury because the doctor was too busy and too important to take the time and dispose of his/her sharps. These sharps end up hidden on the tray, covered or uncovered. They end up in the linens and even in the trash, where some unsuspecting housekeeper can be stuck.
Getting the physicians to dispose of their own sharps is a difficult task. They tend to not see it as a problem. I have found that asking the physicians to dispose of their sharps doesn\'t work either. I have actually been told that it wasn\'t their job and they are too busy. One possible solution to this problem is getting the hospital administration involved, making it a policy that the physicians dispose of their own sharps.
But I\'m not sure that a policy is necessarily the answer to this problem. Reducing anybody\'s risk of an injury by a needle stick or scalpel is everybody\'s job and the right thing to do. Everyone is responsible for making sure they know how to use the tools they work with. It is also everyone\'s responsibility to dispose of these items correctly and safely to prevent needle sticks to themselves and to others.