The following article authored by Dr. Foley details the real and present dangers of needlestick injuries and the movement to prevent them. We welcome Dr. Foley to the RN.FM Radio community!
Needlestick Advocacy 101: A History of the Safe in Common Movement to Protect Healthcare Personnel, by Dr. Mary Foley
Each year 385,000 needlestick injuries and other sharps-related injuries are sustained by hospital-based healthcare personnel.
This is an unacceptable reality.
As Chairperson of Safe in Common—a movement of healthcare personnel committed to making the workplace safe from the risk of needlestick injuries—I have the opportunity to travel the country and talk to thousands of healthcare workers about how needlestick injuries affect their lives. Through my conversations, I’m often reminded that the work we’re doing to give voice to the 5.6 million healthcare personnel in the U.S that lack access to safety-engineered medical devices is not new; the movement we’re invigorating builds upon decades of clinical and political needlestick advocacy.
I’ve been a registered nurse for more than 35 years, and began my career as one of the first healthcare workers to combat the emerging HIV-AIDS epidemic at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco during the 1980s. I played a key role in securing the passage in California of the first state-based laws in the U.S. mandating the use safety medical devices, and then continued that work by partnering with nurse colleagues to campaign for the adoption of the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. Elected President of the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 2000, I had the privilege to join President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office of the White House when he enacted the Act into law.
However, despite the successes we’ve earned, needlestick injuries remain a real and present danger in healthcare work places across the country. Including other non-acute healthcare facilities, it is estimated that 600,000 healthcare personnel incur a needlestick injury each year in the U.S.
So, given the present circumstances and important history of the struggle against needlesticks—when I learned about Safe in Common’s Needlestick Safety Pledge initiative, I knew I had to get involved.
The Needlestick Safety Pledge is a simple idea with far-reaching consequences. We’re working to collect digital signatures from 100,000 healthcare personnel who each acknowledge the importance of safer needles and safer workplaces.
By alleviating the stigma of sustaining a needlestick, advocating for safer devices and raising awareness about the issue, we hope to continue the work that began in the 1980s: keeping patients and healthcare workers healthy and safe.
We hope to hear from you.