British smart medtech company NeedleSmart is expanding into the US healthcare market to protect American healthcare workers and patients from needlestick injuries (NSI).
In the US alone, more than 1 million NSI are reported each year, affecting frontline nurses, healthcare workers and patients. However, it is estimated that the more accurate figure may be five times that number, due to a culture of underreporting.
NeedleSmart, which is based in Liverpool and has offices in Philadelphia, will initially focus its efforts on helping the US healthcare system reduce NSI. Pre COVID-19, NSI cost the US healthcare industry more than $1 billion each year. A cost built on treatments (both physical and mental), absenteeism, agency staff and in many cases lawsuits.
Needlestick injuries are caused when a hypodermic needle accidentally punctures the skin. These injuries – which can happen at any time, however the NSI which carry the most significant risks are those that happen after exposure to the patient.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 385,000 NSI occur each year to hospital-based healthcare workers, amounting to more than 1,000 NSI per day amongst hospital healthcare staff. Many more of those NSI also occur through emergency services, homecare, and nursing homes.
NeedleSmart is working with lawmakers and government agencies in the US to inform, advance and extend legislation that will protect healthcare workers and frontline staff.
US based NeedleSmart chief operating officer Michael Barron said: “Needlestick injuries were already a serious global problem pre COVID-19, with more than 3 million reported cases each year and rising. The introduction of a global vaccination program has added significantly to this with pandemic with NSI statistics yet to be made publicly available.
“The global supply and use of needles is at an all-time record, which means the risk of becoming injured by a NSI has also greatly increased. If we factor into this equation that hospitals, emergency services and healthcare staff are under even more pressure, facing longer shifts and suffering from burnout and chronic fatigue, this creates the perfect storm for an unprecedented increase and risk of NSI to US healthcare and frontline emergency services staff. While the reported figure of NSI in the US is 1 million, it is believed that the actual figure could be considerably more due to a culture of under reporting NSI.
“With NeedleSmart, we can not only reduce and prevent NSI to key frontline healthcare staff, EMS personnel and patients, but we can increase staff efficiencies as we link our bespoke software solutions directly to the NeedleSmart Pro hardware and eliminate significant amounts of pre and post procedure administration and in-efficiency. Our audit and compliance software runs alongside the safe destruction technology to create a singular end to end workflow. NeedleSmart will significantly reduce post procedural PPNSI, directly targeting and reducing the $1billion per year associated costs.”
NeedleSmart is developing technologies with the NHS to prevent NSI to NHS healthcare workers and clinicians. It is also developing carbon reduction strategies in clinical waste disposal, as well as digitising vaccination programmes. NeedleSmart has achieved FDA approval as a Class II medical device.
The NeedleSmart Pro device destroys a contaminated hypodermic needle in a sealed chamber in six seconds, minimising post-procedural NSI. The device heats the needle to 2372 degrees Fahrenheit, killing potentially harmful pathogens, viruses and bacteria adhering to the needle. In seconds, the needle is compressed into a tiny ball and released from the NeedleSmart device as a safe sphere of metal at the tip of the syringe.
Aligned with this NeedleSmart has set the goal of re-purposing this waste away from plastic sharps containers to a 96% recycled cardboard clinical waste container in the future.
Cliff Kirby, NeedleSmart’s founder and Global CEO, added: “Not only is this the world’s first safe needle destruction technology that also has FDA 510 (k) approval as a Class II medical device (Sharps Needle Destruction Device (NDD)), but it is the only smart medtech to have a unique compliance and audit software each time a needle is used.
“When used as part of a vaccination program, our system offers 30-50% increased efficiencies, providing unique compliance with a digital audit trail from the point of when the needle is unwrapped from its sterile packaging. This provides a full audit trail and compliance including, vaccination batch and manufacturer, the healthcare professional administering the vaccination, date, time, and patient details – right through to the safe destruction of the needle. This firmly puts healthcare and EMS worker safety at the forefront.”