AOHP Sounds Alarm on U.S. Sharps Injuries

"Blood exposure among health care workers is a serious occupational risk that health care facilities strive to reduce," said Linda Good, director of Employee Occupational Services for Scripps Health and co-author of the EXPO-S.T.O.P. survey. "For the first time, we now have stick and splash exposure benchmark rates that represent the United States nationally."

The Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) released the alarming results from a recently conducted survey of its members that sought to establish the first nationally representative blood exposure database and benchmark resource. The results of the EXPO-S.T.O.P. (EXPOsure Survey of Trends in Occupational Practice) survey, described by the association as the largest annual survey of its kind conducted in the United States, were released in the Fall 2013 edition of the AOHP Journal.

"AOHP members from 125 hospitals in 29 states participated in EXPO-S.T.O.P.," said the survey's co-author, Terry Grimmond, FASM, BAgrSc, GrDpAdEd, director of Grimmond and Associates, Microbiology Consultants, in Hamilton, New Zealand. "The survey shows a sharps injury rate of 24 per 100 occupied beds, or 1.9 per 100 full-time equivalents. Extrapolating nationally, we estimate that annually, 320,000 U.S. [health care workers] sustain SI in hospital and non-hospital settings. This is the first national estimate since the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2001. It indicates the mandated use of safety engineered devices alone is not achieving our reduction goals, and a new vigor must be found to protect our [health care workers]."

"Blood exposure among health care workers is a serious occupational risk that health care facilities strive to reduce," added Linda Good, Ph.D., RN, COHN-S, director of Employee Occupational Services for Scripps Health (San Diego, Calif.) and EXPO-S.T.O.P. co-author. "For the first time, we now have stick and splash exposure benchmark rates that represent the United States nationally."

The nine-item electronic survey was distributed to AOHP members nationally in 2012. AOHP says the results will help health care facilities better understand how these exposures occur, how they can be reduced, and what best practices are used by hospitals with low rates of blood exposures.

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