Each year, approximately 400,000 healthcare workers (HCW) in the United States suffer accidental injury from needles and other medical sharps while tending to patients. These injuries can result from injections, drips, infusions, blood-taking, surgery, biopsy and research, among other causes.
Each of these accidents carries a small but documented risk of transmitting more than 60 blood-borne pathogens from the patient to the HCW, the three most topical being human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
To potentially lower the number of these accidents, Subcommittee F04.33 on Medical/Surgical Instruments is currently revising F2132, Specification for Puncture Resistance of Materials Used in Containers for Discarded Medical Needles and Other Sharps. The subcommittee is part of ASTM International Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices. A balanced and representative task group is being assembled to revise F2132 and interested users, producers, regulatory authorities, advisory bodies, professional associations, researchers and those with general interest are invited to join. Initially the draft document will be discussed via e-mail and telephone/teleconference, with the task group possibly holding a face-to-face meeting during the November meetings of Committee F04.
Terry Grimmond, medical microbiologist and clinical director, The Daniels Corp., and chair of the F2132 task group, states that an estimated 30,000 HCW suffer sharps injuries associated with containers every year. These injuries occur while depositing sharps into, or via sharps protruding from, penetrating through, or bouncing out of sharps containers. While the standard has reduced incidents of needles piercing through container walls, pierced containers still account for approximately 600 sharps injuries to HCW per year.
Recent reviews of sharps container standards in other countries have strengthened and increased the number of performance tests and inserted design requirements to help protect HCW. The subcommittee hopes that proposed revisions to F2132 will further strengthen the standard and contribute to a decrease in container-associated sharps injuries.
For technical Information, contact Terry Grimmond, The Daniels Corp., Hamilton, New Zealand (phone: +011-64-7-856-4042; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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