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Reusable Sharps Containers Lead to More C. difficile Infections, According to New Study

Market Watch has recently released a press release concerning the correlation between the usage of reusable sharps containers and C. difficile infections (C. diff). According to an independent study of over 600 hospitals conducted by BDX, the rates of this specific infection seems to be much larger in acute care hospitals that do use the reusable sharps compared to those that don’t.screenshot

Dr. Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz of Jefferson School of Nursing carried out a presentation of the results and analysis of the study between June 27-29 at the 42nd Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

The data is based on a national survey of hospitals all over the U.S., with responses linking to data set 1 of the FY2012 Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR). According to the multivariable regression of the data, hospitals that only utilize single-use sharps have vastly lower rates of the infection than those that choose to use the reusable variety. The difference between the rates is quite significant, with an Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) of 0.8701. This number can be roughly estimated to a 15% difference in C. diff infection rates between the two container usages.

At the conference, Dr. Pogorzelska-Maziarz stated the importance of proper sharps disposal in a medical setting. She further explained that although these new findings don’t prove a direct relationship between C. diff infections and reusable sharps containers, it does allude to the possibility of this particular pathogen transmission in certain settings.

Currently, C. diff infections are at an all-time high. In fact, in 2011, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported over 29,000 deaths caused by the infection. This cost U.S. healthcare up to $4.8 billion. Dr. Pogorzelksa-Maziarz decided to study this particular pathogen due to its high mortality and morbidity rates, as well as the costs to control it. Furthermore, Dr. Pogorzelksa-Maziarz found the role of environmental contamination to be significant in transmitting the infection.

Dr. Lynne Kelley, who is vice president of global medical affairs at BD Medical, has noted Dr. Pogorzelska-Mazaiarz’s work as being truly significant for the healthcare industry, given that both C. diff infection rates and reusable sharps usage have risen substantially in recent years. Dr. Kelley believes that eliminating hospital-associated pathogen transmissions is incredibly important, which is exactly what BD Medical attempts to do. She also believes that this new study could make way for improved infection control protocols within hospitals to reduce the risks of various infections including C. diff.