In the United States (U.S.), federal legislation requiring the use of safety-engineered sharp devices, along with an array of other protective measures, has played a critical role in reducing healthcare workers' (HCWs) risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens over the last 20 years. We present the history of U.S. regulatory and legislative actions regarding occupational blood exposures, and review evidence of the impact of these actions. In one large network of U.S. hospitals using the Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet) sharps injury surveillance program, overall injury rates for hollow-bore needles declined by 34%, with a 51% decline for nurses. The U.S. experience demonstrates the effectiveness of safety-engineered devices in reducing sharps injuries, and the importance of national-level regulations (accompanied by active enforcement) in ensuring wide-scale availability and implementation of protective devices to decrease healthcare worker risk.
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