Injuries caused by needles and other sharp devices (called “sharps”) are a significant public health concern. Sharps injuries can expose health care workers to harmful bloodborne pathogens. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nationwide between 600,000 and 800,000 injuries from contaminated sharps occur in health care settings each year.
Both Massachusetts and federal law require Massachusetts hospitals to:
- Use sharps devices with engineered safety features (safety devices)
- Develop and implement plans to reduce worker exposures to sharps
- Maintain logs of sharps injuries sustained by workers
Acute and chronic care hospitals licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) are also required to report information from these sharps logs to MDPH on an annual basis.
Sharps Injury Surveillance and Prevention
The Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) maintains the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System and uses the data provided by hospitals to produce an annual state report on sharps injuries among Massachusetts hospital workers.
The surveillance system is intended to provide information regarding the magnitude and trends of sharps injuries in the state and to identify devices, procedures and departments most frequently associated with sharps injuries that should be considered priorities for intervention. OHSP also works with hospitals and health care workers to facilitate exchange of information about successful sharps injury prevention programs and practices.
The Sustainable Hospitals Project at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides technical assistance to OHSP on issues regarding sharps injury prevention technology.