There are significantly higher rates of C. difficile infection among hospitals that use reusable sharps containers, according to US nursing researchers.
The first-of-its-kind study identified C. difficile infection rates to be 15% higher in hospitals that used reusable sharps containers versus hospitals that use single-use disposable containers.
The researchers analysed data from the results of a national survey of 600 hospitals in the US conducted in December 2013.
“These findings… raise important questions about the potential role that reusable sharps containers may play in pathogen transmission”
According to the analysis, hospitals that used single-use containers had significantly lower rates of C. difficile, compared to those using reusable containers.
Lead author Dr Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, assistant professor at the Jefferson School of Nursing in Philadelphia, said: “The use of containers to properly dispose of sharps in the healthcare setting is a critical component of most occupational safety programs in healthcare settings.
“These findings, while they do not confirm a direct correlation between protocols for sharps disposal and risk of healthcare associated infection, do raise important questions about the potential role that reusable sharps containers may play in pathogen transmission,” she said.
The study was commissioned and funded by the medical technology company BD.
However, the company stated that the design of the study and subsequent data analysis was independently undertaken by Dr Pogorzelska-Maziarz.
The study was presented as a poster (see attached PDF) at the annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Nashville, Tennessee.