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May/June 2009
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Container Puncture Resistance

Each year, approximately 400,000 health care workers in the United States suffer accidental injury from needles and other medical sharps while tending to patients. These injuries can result from injections, drips, infusions, blood-taking, surgery, biopsy and research, among other causes.

Each of these accidents carries a small but documented risk of transmitting more than 60 blood-borne pathogens from the patient to the health care worker, the three most topical being human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

To potentially lower the number of these accidents, Subcommittee F04.33 on Medical/Surgical Instruments is currently revising F2132, Specification for Puncture Resistance of Materials Used in Containers for Discarded Medical Needles and Other Sharps. The subcommittee is part of ASTM International Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices. A balanced and representative task group is being assembled to revise F2132 and interested users, producers, regulatory authorities, advisory bodies, professional associations, researchers and those with general interest are invited to join. Initially the draft document will be discussed via email and telephone/teleconference, with the task group possibly holding a face-to-face meeting during the November meeting of Committee F04.

Terry Grimmond, medical microbiologist and clinical director, the Daniels Corp., and chair of the F2132 task group, states that annually, an estimated 30,000 health care workers suffer sharps injuries associated with containers. These injuries occur while depositing sharps into, or via sharps protruding from, penetrating through, or bouncing out of, sharps containers. While the standard has reduced incidents of needles piercing through container walls, pierced containers still account for approximately 600 sharps injuries to health care workers per year.

Recent reviews of other sharps container standards have strengthened and increased the number of performance tests and inserted design requirements to help protect health care workers. The subcommittee hopes that proposed revisions to F2132 will further strengthen the standard and contribute to a decrease in container-associated sharps injuries.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Terry Grimmond, Daniels Corp., Hamilton, New Zealand

Phone: +011-64-7-856-4042

ASTM Staff: Daniel Schultz

Phone: 610-832-9716