Why safer blood collection products and value-based care go hand in hand
In the last decade, regional and global health organizations have pushed for making safety a central pillar of procurement, with a directive that cost should not be a barrier. The crucial question is: How easy is that to implement? How can a confident decision be reached that protects patients and healthcare workers without straining costs?
There are always inherent risks involved in phlebotomy, to both the patient, healthcare worker, and the credibility of test results. Minimizing these risks can be aligned with the use of a safety product, with associated cost savings that may not be immediately apparent.
Prevention is less expensive than treatment and recovery
A Royal College of Nursing project reported that 100,000 needlestick accidents occur in the UK every year, and Bevan Brittan, a legal firm representing the NHS, estimates the cost of needlestick injuries to each UK NHS trust to be around £500,000 each year in legal costs . And in the US, the initial treatment of a needlestick injury (NSI) can cost between 800 - 6000 USD each  , with initial costs of medication for the Hepatitis C virus starting at around 25,000 USD  , and fines from OSHA beginning at 13,260 USD  . It should be noted that this is before associated costs are taken into consideration; staff absence interrupts the efficiency of already heavily burdened departments, and reputational damage and morale pose a considerable challenge to a sector that is struggling with staff retention.
The takeaway is that indirect costs exceed the direct costs. The EU and OSHA are rigorous in their safety directives with regards to NSI, and arriving at a decision in selecting a safety device that balances costs without sacrificing safety need not be a complicated process.
Which criteria should be used to evaluate a safety device?
An established culture of safety feeds into the selection process. But with a vast inventory of products available, how can this process be simplified? There are three pillars upon which to base a decision :
Staff input is essential; frontline workers, lab directors and technicians are the experts and have an established choreography; the well-oiled routine of efficient blood collection and analysis that a reliable product supports. They will be familiar with what works, and what doesn’t.
A critical factor in blood collection choreography, ease of use allows for a swift and efficient routine that protects both patient and nurse. There are many resources that outline what these should be and useful guides can be found at the Training for Development of Innovative Control Technologies Project. The evaluation is unambiguous and supports the selection of a suitable device:
- The safety feature can be activated using a one-handed technique
- The safety feature does not interfere with normal use of this product
- Use of this product requires you to use the safety feature
- This product takes the same/less time to use as a non-safety device
- The safety feature works well with a wide variety of hand sizes
- The safety feature works with a winged needle
- A clear and unmistakable change (either audible or visible) occurs when the safety feature is properly activated
- The safety feature operates reliably
- The exposed sharp is covered after use and prior to disposal
- The non-patient end needle (covered with a rubber sleeve) does not present a danger of exposure
If any of the above considerations are not accommodated, there always remains an added risk not only to the welfare of all involved in phlebotomy, but to the integrity and accuracy of results. And this impacts patient care. So with these three pillars covered, what else can be done to ensure the safety of healthcare workers, patients and accuracy?
How does a reliable supply chain support safety?
The culture of safety is in place, a short list of prospective manufacturers has been identified, fulfilling the code of conduct and sustainability criteria and the costs are clear. Should the cheapest option then be chosen? This is where a reliable supply chain can really add value in blood collection.
Logistics have been transformed and optimized due to the pandemic, but still face a host of challenges; the costs of raw materials continue to increase and global events impact the availability and delivery of goods. So how does one manufacturer’s offering compare to a competitor’s?
Peace of mind
There will be shortages, and there will be bottlenecks, but being agile in the ability to forecast, communicate and prepare for these inevitable obstacles, in good time, supports clinicians in their work and maintains the quality of care provided to patients throughout the blood collection process.
A reliable, transparent provider is a trusted partner, supporting the welfare of clinicians in delivering the care their patients need.
 AOHP, 2014
 HealthDay, 11/6/18
 OSHA, 2018
Safety and value, it’s in our blood
Protecting patients, clinicians and accuracy are topics to be covered in more detail here in the coming months. To ensure you don’t miss out, subscribe to the series here.
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