With an eye toward a safer work environment, BWH’s efforts to protect healthcare workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBP) have been met with strong success over the past five years. Among highest risk exposures, BWH has experienced a 37 percent decrease since 1998. This success is the result of a multidisciplinary effort focused on improving processes, increasing reporting, introducing new products and expanding educational outreach.
Minimizing opportunities for BBP exposures at BWH hinges on the collection and interpretation of exposure data. Armed with a better understanding of how and why employees are exposed, the BWH Needle Safety Team can assess areas for improvement and implement hospital-wide needle safety responses.
Several initiatives have been underway to make reporting faster and easier, ensuring prompt follow-up and initiation of prophylactic medication if needed. The BWH Needle Safety Team has collaborated with Occupation Health Services (OHS) to provide a needlestick beeper (#3-STIK), a 24-hour response mechanism that helps exposed employees obtain optimal, immediate follow-up. The team also has reached out to clinicians through Needle Safety Fairs and Grand Rounds presentations.
For the past four years, as new needle safe products have been introduced to BWH, data has been collected on the relationship between devices and the number of BBP exposures. As reflected in the above data, since 1998 these products have been associated with an overall reduction in exposures.
While the results are encouraging, according to safety team member Deborah Yokoe, MD, “it is not enough to have these safety products and devices at our hospital. An ongoing goal of our team is to continue to educate nurses and physicians about the importance of using available needle safety products correctly and following safety procedures designed to reduce the risk of BBP exposures.”
Although significant reductions in the number of BBP exposures among BWH nursing staff have been achieved, a similar improvement has not yet been observed for physician exposures. As a result, the BWH Needle Safety Team has stepped up its efforts to provide hands-on training for physicians and housestaff and apply leadership models that have been successful among nurses. “It is important that we educate our physicians about the necessity of self-reporting and especially target our high risk groups,” said Yokoe. “Additionally, we are working with the Value Analysis team to increase acceptance of new safety products and incorporate safer devices into procedure kits used by physicians.” However, Yokoe noted, one of the most important factors in decreasing exposures lies within the individual and their commitment to self-reporting and safety awareness.
For more information on the 2002 BBP exposure report and educational outreach opportunities, contact Yokoe at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marlene Freeley at 617-732-8501.