Mitigating Needlestick Injuries in Dental Practices: A Comprehensive Approach

In the global landscape of dental practices, the question of how to prevent needlestick injuries and ensure the safety of our team is a universal concern. Cicada Medical, a renowned name in the field, has delved into this issue and devised a solution.

During dental procedures, sharp instruments such as needles, scalpels, root canal reamers, stitch cutters, and glass ampoules are routinely used. Accidental injuries can occur during their use or disposal, posing a significant risk. Unsafe injections can lead to the transmission of a wide array of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. They can also cause non-infectious adverse events such as abscesses and toxic reactions. The reuse of syringes or needles, common in many settings, exposes patients to pathogens either directly (via contaminated equipment) or indirectly (via contaminated medication vials).

The Risks of Unsafe Injection Practices

The risks associated with unsafe injection practices have been well-documented, particularly concerning the three primary bloodborne pathogens – human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Recognizing these risks, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was introduced in the US to revise the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standard regulating occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The Act, signed into law on November 6, 2000, and effective from April 18, 2001, seeks to reduce health care workers’ exposure to bloodborne pathogens by imposing additional requirements upon employers, such as hospitals and ASCs, concerning their sharps procedures. The Act:

  1. Modifies the definition of “engineering controls” and adds definitions for the terms “sharps with engineered sharps injury protection” and “needleless systems.”
  2. Requires employers to consider and implement new technologies when they update their “exposure control plan.”
  3. Requires employers to solicit employee input with respect to appropriate engineering controls.
  4. Requires employers to maintain a sharps injury log.

Needlestick Injuries: A Common Subgroup of Medical Accidents

Needlestick injuries, a common subgroup of medical accidents, carry personal and financial consequences. For instance, an inspection can result in the dentist being cited for violations of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, with significant economic impact for the practice and relevant legal and personal implications.

The standard states, “engineering and work practice controls shall be used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure.” The 2001 revision defines engineering controls as “controls (e.g., sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices, such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems) that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace.”

In Europe, about 1 million needle puncture wounds occur every year. The discipline relating to the prevention of stab wounds is introduced in the Community through Directive 2010/32/EU and arises from the need to protect health workers because workers at risk of needle bites and stab wounds.

So, how can dentists prevent needlestick injuries?

The Orabloc Needlestick Safety System from Pierrel is a medical device that allows needle recapping with one hand, so as to minimize the risk of accidental needlesticks. The device is very practical and simple to use: the needle is inserted into a disc with an opening and closed by a silicone capsule of bright color. It is then simply extracted and a spring inside the system pushes the opening towards the next capsule.

Once the needle is removed from the syringe, the opposite end can also be plugged. The rigid silicone caps adhere to the needle and they do not risk falling and effectively avoids the danger of accidental punctures.

The device is equipped with 100 protective capsules of different colors: from green, to yellow and finallyto red, signaling when you are running out of silicone caps and need to replace the device.

The Orabloc Needles Protection Device is a portable tool that can be used in case there are multiple operators at work. Its silicone base ensures that the device does not move during recapping, without being anchored by clamps to the work table.

Compared to other devices on the market, the Orabloc Needles Protection Device:

  • Can also be used when multiple injections are being made
  • Doesn’t require electricity
  • Does not need to be sterilized
  • Produces no emissions or fumes
  • Is recyclable

It is the most competitive product to ensure safety within your dental practice.

In conclusion, needlestick injuries in dental practices are a significant concern worldwide. However, with the right precautions and the use of innovative devices like the Orabloc Needles Protection Device from Cicada Medical, these risks can be significantly mitigated, ensuring a safer environment for both dental professionals and patients.

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