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ECRMC participates in ‘sharps' research

October 23, 2001|STAFF REPORT

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.


Of these, three of every 1,000 results in some kind of infection and there are more than 1,000 cases of hepatitis resulting from health-care worker accidents each year. Each sharps injury costs a hospital an average of $1,000, not including medication, Muzzarelli said.

The study is designed specifically to assess the impact of blood-borne pathogen standards for health-care workers while measuring the financial impact on the hospitals. Blood-borne pathogens are viruses, bacteria and generally "bad bugs" in the blood stream that can cause disease and, in some cases, death.

The survey is concerned with developing measures to limit exposure to the highly infectious viruses such as the hepatitits B and C strains, she said.

"When we get all through with this we will know where we stand in comparison to other hospitals in the safety measures we are practicing." she said, "and what we can do to become even safer."

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