Conventional Needle Sales To End at Becton Dickinson

Event marks a shift in healthcare technology and clinical practices in favor of patient safety

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IN RESPONSE TO DECLINING SALES of many types of conventional needles and other “sharps” devices, Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) announced plans to discontinue offering these products in the United States.

“The market in the U.S. is converting to safety-engineered sharps devices,” stated Ed Thompson, Senior Director of Worldwide Health Worker Safety at BD. “We recognize the market’s transition to these types of products and are shifting our emphasis accordingly.

“At the same time, there will always be a need for conventional needles and other sharps products,” he continued. “Our actions are designed to support the continuing needs of clinicians and avoid any disruption.”

Impact Of Federal Law

Since implementation of the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act on April 18, 2001, healthcare providers have responded by adopting safety- engineered needles. THE DARK REPORT observes that BD’s announcement validates the far-reaching impact this federal mandate is having.

“Among our clients, the transition is farthest along in hospitals,” noted Thompson. “We see this in our sales. For clinical areas where the federal law requires a switch, 80% of products like IV catheters, ‘needleless’ IV connectors, blood drawing needles, winged needle sets, and lancet devices sold to hospitals are safety-engineered. The overall transition rate in clinics and physicians’ offices is much lower.”

According to Thompson, there is a learning curve for providers. “In the earliest stages of this transition, we provided plenty of education and training,” he said. “Once a provider has made the switch, the safety benefits are so compelling that we’ve seen few switch back to conventional needles. Also, the early-adopters in this effort were clinical labs and those involved in blood collection and analysis.”

Canada Next To Act

Thompson says that Canada is the next country to mandate this switch. “The Province of Alberta passed a law, effective September 1, 2003,” he stated. “Similar legislation is under consideration in several other countries.”

Lab directors and pathologists should recognize that BD’s move to discontinue sales of conventional needles and sharps devices demonstrates how rapidly the healthcare marketplace is evolving, particularly on issues affecting patient and worker safety. The benefits are measurable and significant. One study of academic hospitals demonstrated a 51% reduction in sharps injuries to nurses between 1993 and 2001.


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