It’s the 20th Anniversary of The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. So What’s New?

It’s the 20th Anniversary of The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. So What’s New?

On November 6, 2000, The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was signed into law. At the time, Congress felt a modification to OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was needed due to the overwhelming occupational exposure to infectious agents. More specifically, updating OSHA's requirement for employers to identify, evaluate, and implement safer medical devices. Since then, progress has been up and down.

The Bad News

The Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) released a report of the EXPO-S.T.O.P. (EXPOsure Survey of Trends in Occupational Practice) 2016 and 2017 surveys in the AOHP Journal (Vol. 39, No. 1). This annual, nationwide electronic survey was designed to determine the number of sharps injuries and mucocutaneous blood exposures among healthcare workers. A conclusion of the report cited a significant rise in sharp injuries.

“It is alarming that data from the last three surveys have shown a year-by-year significant increase in sharps injuries (SI), and that the 2017 rate is almost back to the 2001 rate,” said survey co-author Terry Grimmond of Grimmond & Associates Microbiology Consultants, in a statement released at the time the survey results were announced, “These increasing rates validate that the significant decrease in sharps injuries in the years immediately following the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2001 has not been sustained.”

Some Good News

Finally—after decades of the same old traditional needle options—a safer dental needle has been created. It’s called SimpleCAP. This needle system is an end-to-end solution that promotes safety during assembly, usage, recapping, disassembly, and disposal. Here’s how:

  • The threading built right into the hub so that the needle glides and becomes tight ONLY when it bottoms out.
  • It’s clear when the needle is and is NOT secure.
  • You can safely align and assemble without fear of scraping or pricking. 
  • The bevel is much sharper which ensures connection with the capsule without glancing or bending.
  • The patented sheath and locking technology has only ONE method of operation, reducing the risk of injury.
  • The needle is hidden and shielded, which reduces the anxiety associated with needles.

Hopefully, dentists will use this safer, more-advanced needle in their practice to help lower the number of sharp injuries. It would be nice to see better statistics as we move into the next twenty years of healthcare.

Updated on

October 23, 2020

Authored by:

Dr. Kathy Schrubbe | Dir. of OSHA and infection control

Katherine Schrubbe BSDH MEd PhD is an adjunct professor at Marquette University School of Dentistry and Director of Quality Assurance for Dental Associates. With 30+ years in dental education Schrubbe is a regular speaker of continuing education courses on infection control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. She was the 2003 recipient of the American Association of Dental Research William B. Clark Award for Clinical Research.