TEGH first hospital in Ontario to fully implement safety engineered needles

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Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH) is proud to be the first hospital in Ontario to implement all available safety engineered needle options for blood collection, drug injection and intravenous systems. As a result of the new safety needles TEGH has experienced an 85 per cent reduction in sharps injuries, far surpassing its original goal of a 20 per cent reduction.

TEGH took this innovative step in response to growing concerns in both Canada and the United States about patient and staff safety. Although the United States has had legislation making the use of safety engineering needles mandatory since 2001, Canada does not, as yet, have a federal needlestick safety law. With nearly 70,000 needlestick injuries reported by hospital employees each year in Canada, TEGH decided to undertake a review of its sharps injuries. This analysis resulted in a decision to design a hospital-wide program initially focused on the introduction of safety needles for blood collection and patient injection, the areas of greatest risk for staff. The initial phase began in 2001 and was followed by the implementation of needleless IV systems and safety devices for IV catheters, completed in the summer of 2005.

Although safety engineering needles are more expensive than traditional options, TEGH believes that preventing the human and economic costs associated with these injuries is critical. The consequences and human impact of a sharps injury cannot be underestimated and can include possible contraction of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Paula Harnum-Brown, Manager, Occupational Health & Safety at TEGH, has seen the human costs of these injuries noting that, “Staff are terrified when they receive a poke because the potential ramifications are frightening. While TEGH provides treatment, counseling and support for staff and their families, the experience is very traumatic – and also very preventable.”

The needles adopted by TEGH have safety covers that are hinged so that once the collection or injection is complete, the cap can be activated using only one hand. Although requiring a change in technique to add the locking step, it is only a minimal change and “it didn’t take long for the nurses to see that safety engineered needles work very well,” says Heather McDougall, triage clinic nurse at TEGH. “Once they realized that this was fast and easy and, most importantly, did not interfere with the quality of care for patients, they were convinced.”

“Toronto East General Hospital is proud of its full implementation of all safety engineered needle options at TEGH and that these systems have resulted in significant injury reduction. We believe that it is important to prevent the human and economic costs associated with needlestick injuries. TEGH is committed to safety needle systems because, above all, we care about our patients and our staff,” indicates Rob Devitt, President & CEO, Toronto East General Hospital.