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To document the costs and the benefits (both in terms of costs averted and of injuries averted) of education sessions and replacement of phlebotomy devices to ensure that needle recapping did not take place.
The percentage of recapped needles and the rate of needlestick injuries were evaluated in 1990 and 1997, from a survey of transparent rigid containers in the wards and at the bedside and from a prospective register of all injuries in the workplace. Costs were computed from the viewpoint of the hospital. Positive costs were those of education and purchase of safer phlebotomy devices; negative costs were the prophylactic treatments and follow-up averted by the reduction in injuries.
A 1,050-bed tertiary-care university hospital in the Paris region.
Between the two periods, the proportion of needles seen in the containers that had been recapped was reduced from 10% to 2%. In 1990, 127 needlestick (12.7/100,000 needles) and 52 recapping injuries were reported versus 62 (6.4/100,000 needles) and 22 in 1996 and 1997. When the rates were related to the actual number of patients, the reduction was 76 injuries per year. The total cost of information and preventive measures was $325,927 per year. The cost-effectiveness was $4,000 per injury prevented.
Although preventive measures taken to ensure reduction of needlestick injuries appear to have been effective (75% reduction in recapping and 50% reduction in injuries), the cost of the safety program was high.
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