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An Outbreak of Needlestick Injuries in Hospital Employees Due to Needles Piercing Infectious Waste Containers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Anne M. Anglim
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
June E. Collmer
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
T. Joel Loving
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Kenneth A. Beltran
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Betty J. Coyner
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Karim Adal
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Janine Jagger
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Nikolas J. Sojka
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Barry M. Farr*
Affiliation:
The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
*
Box 473, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, VA 22908.

Abstract

Objectives:

To investigate the cause of an outbreak of needlestick injuries (NSIs) in hospital employees.

Setting:

A 700-bed university hospital.

Design:

Outbreak investigation, laboratory evaluation of a medical waste disposal device, cost analysis.

Methods:

Employee health department records were reviewed of workers suffering sticks from needles piercing fiberboard-contaminated material containers (CMCs). A laboratory evaluation of needle-puncture resistance properties of the CMCs was performed using a testing apparatus. The cost of a hospital waste disposal program using fiberboard CMCs was compared with the cost of a program using rigid plastic (polypropylene) boxes.

Results:

During 40 months of surveillance in 1986 and from 1989 to 1991, only one NSI had occurred from a needle piercing a CMC. During 9 months in 1993, 13 NSIs occurred due to needles piercing CMCs (P<.001). No clinical illness resulted from the NSIs. The outbreak was halted by a temporary change to plastic (polypropylene) boxes for sharps disposal ($4.92 to $23.33/cu ft) until receipt of a box with a newly designed solid fiberboard liner ($1.25/cu ft). CMC liners used during the epidemic had a mean needle puncture resistance of 527 g, as compared with 660 g for liners used before the outbreak (P<.001). The new solid fiberboard liner has a mean puncture resistance of 1,765 g. A program of waste disposal using fiberboard CMCs was found to cost approximately one-seventh the cost of a program using plastic boxes for disposal of infectious waste.

Conclusion:

A program for infectious waste disposal using fiberboard CMCs can be safe and cost-effective if appropriate standards for puncture resistance are met.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America 1995

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