Awareness of Needlestick Prevention Law

Only half of nurses in one poll knew about the 10-year-old law.

In December 2010, the American Nurses Association (ANA) released the results of its online poll on awareness of the law designed to reduce injuries from needlesticks and sharp instruments used in health care. Only 55% of 651 online voters (presumably nurses) indicated that they were aware that there is a law in place to help minimize needlestick and sharps injuries for healthcare workers.

The law went into effect in November 2000 when President Bill Clinton signed the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, which shifted the focus of exposure to bloodborne pathogens from behavior to devices used in health care. The law became effective in April 2001 and amended the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to require the use of safety devices to prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens and require documentation of needlestick injuries.

Most nurses are aware of the availability of safety devices in their workplaces; however, as the ANA poll suggests, about half of nurses might not know about the law. This is an interesting finding, given the fact that the law went into effect about ten years ago.