New Healthcare Regulations Focus On Preventing Sharps-Related Injuries

By improving recycling regulations in the healthcare industry, officials working with the Department of Natural Resources hope to decrease accidental injuries.

“I think a part of the problem is there’s not enough education on what is and what is not recyclable,” said Jim Short of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Waste and Hazardous Substances Division. “We need to do a better job of explaining that to the public at large.”

According to the Cape Gazette, the changes in regulations are designed to specifically improve recycling participation within the healthcare sector.

“In some cases, it’s as simple as looking in your dumpster to see what you can divert,” said Dan Long, a planner with the Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances.

A big issue in the healthcare industry is sharps injuries caused by the improper disposable of sharps and unreported injuries. It’s estimated that as many as 22 to 99% of sharps-related injuries go unreported.

“Why sharps injuries are dangerous may seem like a pretty basic question but it isn’t,” said Amber H. Mitchell, president and executive director of the International Safety Center. “With emerging and re-emerging global infection diseases, as well as global travel and immigration, sharps injuries related to patient care are more dangerous than ever.”

Infection Control Today reports that an estimated 35 million healthcare workers are at risk of exposure to pathogens from stars-related injuries and three-fourths of those injuries, although preventable, are described in the industry as “just part of the job.”

It’s recommended that, along with proper disposal techniques, medical professionals use more than a single pair of gloves when using and passing instruments. Proper eye protection is also essential for safety in medical situations and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Addiction, by using safer healthcare equipment, roughly 62% of sharps-related injuries can be prevented.

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