Find a Doctor

You can search our online directory of physicians by specialty, last name, zip code or city/town by clicking here

For Information



Lourdes Among Top Five US Teaching Hospitals with Lowest Sharps Injury Rates

Needle stick injuries to clinicians low thanks to employee training and engagment

Peg Johnson, RN, Employee Health clinician, Lourdes Health System, gives an employee a shot.

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is among the top 5 teaching hospitals with the lowest sharps injury rates, according to a national blood and body fluid exposure study by the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP).

Lourdes, as one of the 10 lowest-incidence hospitals, was cited for its sharps injury prevention efforts during the AOHP National Conference in Glendale, Arizona, this past month.

A sharps injury is a penetrating stab wound from a needle, scalpel, or other sharp object that may result in exposure to blood or other body fluids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 300,000 sharps-related injuries occur annually among US health care workers.

“We are proud to be among the top five teaching hospitals with the lowest sharps injury rates,” said Reginald Blaber, MD, MBA, FACC, President, Lourdes Health System. “Multiple factors helped us achieve this milestone, and I thank our clinicians and leadership for embracing a safety-first, no-blame culture that allows us to continually improve and get closer to our goal of zero injuries for our colleagues and zero harm for our patients.”

The AOHP’s 2017 Exposure Study of Occupational Practice (EXPO-S.T.O.P.) national survey is the seventh to be conducted. With 224 US hospitals that participated, it was the largest exposure survey to date. What’s more, the 2017 award only included hospitals with more than 1,500 full-time employees (FTE), making lower injury rates harder to achieve.

The survey found that:

  • Lourdes achieved a sharps injury score of 1.3 per 100 FTEs (#5 lowest nationally of 64 teaching hospitals >1500 full-time employees).
  • The teaching hospital (>1500 FTE) national EXPO-STOP rate was 2.8 sharps injuries per 100 FTE (range 0.6-7.7; median 2.6).
  • The EXPO-STOP 2017 overall rate (all teaching hospitals) was 2.7 sharps injuries per 100 FTE, significantly higher than in 2016 (2.5).

Sharps injuries are typically the result of using hazardous equipment in a fast-paced and stressful environment, said Peg Johnson, RN, Employee Health clinician, Lourdes Health System. She says that while healthcare’s fast-paced environment isn’t likely to change, what has helped is safety awareness, safety devices, and having an established and enforced best-practices injury prevention plan.

“Needle sticks often happen with either the thumb of the dominant hand, or the non-dominant hand—both trying to quickly cap a needle before disposal,” explained Johnson. “But thanks to safety devices for sharps instruments, there has been a drastic decline in the number of needle sticks over the years. Self-closing safety caps and self-contained withdraw needles have made a big difference. However, the key is training practitioners on how to use them properly.”

In addition to education and training, effective best practices plans combine communication, investigation, and engagement, according to the AOHP. Johnson explains the four points of Lourdes best-practices plan:

  • Education: Lourdes continually educates its clinicians with annual trainings. “With new technologies available and devices updated, we never assume a clinician is familiar with the hospital’s policies and devices. We train during orientation, reviewing our processes and exposure reporting procedure. Then clinicians demonstrate competency on all devices relevant to his or her work area. Skills training is held annually. There is also new device training and quarterly training on the nursing units.”
  • Communication: Lourdes has a communication process for ensuring transparency of documented exposures and encourages the reporting of “near misses” with its phone-in and online reporting systems.
  • Investigation: Lourdes embraces a nonretaliatory culture. “When an incident occurs, we do a thorough systematic root cause analysis, where we investigate all the facts. The employee goes to Emergency Room and Employee Health is notified. “Our team talks with the employee after assessment to learn exactly how incident happened and where the breakdown was in the process. We also follow-up six months to a year post-exposure to re-review the facts.
  • Engagement: The focus is on education, not punishment. “We have a no-blame culture at Lourdes. We aim to turn every incident into a positive, teaching moment, one that focuses on safety and how it could have been applied. We review this with the employee repeatedly over multiple time intervals. Then the incident (where we omit the employee’s name) is reviewed at a staff meeting for more teaching opportunity.


Blood and body fluid exposures are preventable when successful, proven strategies are incorporated into the day-to-day work of the healthcare personnel, according to the AOHP.

“For years, needle sticks were mistakenly thought of as part of the job for healthcare workers,” said Johnson. “Thankfully, that has changed. Our team remains focused on safety, training and our goal of zero injuries. We are making strides in the right direction and our no-blame culture of learning will help us get there. We are steadfast in our commitment to clinician safety and support clinicians in caring for our patients.”

Social Invitations

Facebook Twitter Youtube

Follow Us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the latest news and events.

Virtua for Life

Discover ways to improve your health with news, resources, assessments and more with this free Virtua for Life email newsletter.

Let’s get there.

Volunteer Information

We invite you to share your time and skills with us as a volunteer.

Read more