Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Pogorzelska-Maziarz: Sharps disposal containers are ubiquitous in healthcare facilities and there is a growing trend toward hospitals using reusable sharps containers. Several research studies have raised concerns about the potential for sharps containers to become a source of pathogen transmission within the healthcare setting but this issue that has not been systematically studied. This is an important issue given that contamination of the hospital environment has been shown to be an important component of pathogen transmission.
To examine whether the use of reusable versus single use sharps containers was associated with rates of Clostridium difficile, we conducted a cross-sectional study of acute care hospitals. Survey data on the different types of sharps containers used were collected from over 600 hospitals and this data was linked to the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) dataset, which contains facility characteristics and C. diff infections data. We found that hospitals using single-use containers had significantly lower rates of C. diff versus hospitals using reusable containers after controlling for hospital characteristics such as geographic region, teaching status, ownership type, hospital size and urbanicity. This is an important finding giving the ubiquitous nature of sharps containers in the health care setting, the growing trend toward hospitals using reusable sharps containers and the high burden of C. diff in the hospital setting.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Pogorzelska-Maziarz: If C. diff is not properly eradicated from the patient’s environment, it can pose a risk for transmission. This study is the first study to show a link between the use of single use sharps containers and lower C. diff rates and additional studies should be conducted to confirm this link due to the potential infection control implications raised.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Pogorzelska-Maziarz: Since this is the first study to show this link, additional studies are needed to replicate this finding. Additionally, studies should be conducted in other settings such as long-term care facilities where the burden of C. diff is high and explore the relationship between the use of sharps containers and other types of pathogens for which environmental contamination is a known factor in transmission.
Dr. Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz PhD MPH (2015). Single Use Sharps Recycling Many Reduce C. diff Infections