El Centro Regional Medical Center is one of 125 hospitals participating in a University of California, San Francisco, research project evaluating measures being taken to reduce the incidence of "sharps" injuries that increase the infection susceptibility of staff members.
The hospital is using state-mandated safety devices such as intravenous needles and syringes redesigned with safety of health-care workers in mind.
Barbara Muzzarelli, El Centro Regional's coordinator of infection control, said the study is a direct outgrowth of the worldwide HIV epidemic that prompted the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to impose new safety standards for health-care workers.
Muzzarelli said national estimates show 600,000 to 800,000 sharps injuries occur annually in the United States. These injuries include needle sticks, cuts and punctures.