This study assessed protective effects of a continuous introduction of safe instruments in terms of reduction of needle stick injuries. The retrospective study analyzed correlations between the increasing proportion of safe instruments and a reduction of the incidence of needle stick injuries linked to such instruments in a German university hospital over 5 years. Incidents declined about 17.6% from 80.3 incidents per 1000 employees to 66.2, associated with an increase in the proportions of injuries due to instruments without protective mechanisms such as scalpels or hypodermic needles by 12.2%. For injuries due to venipuncture cannulae in various surgical and internal medicine departments, there was a negative association between the proportion of safe instruments and the incidence of injuries. For injection needles, portacath needles, and lancets in selected internal medicine departments, the number of injuries also dropped during this study interval. However, there was no clear-cut association with the percentage of safe instruments. This observational study suggests a correlation between the implementation of use of safe instruments and the reduction of needle stick injuries in a case of a graduated implementation. However, the effects are much less pronounced than in previous interventional studies.
Keywords: implementation; infection risk; needle stick injury; occupational infection; prevention; safe instrument.