Just recently, a Public Citizen report was released that listed healthcare workplaces as among the most dangerous work environments in the United States. The report revealed several shocking statistics, including:

  • In 2011, the healthcare industry saw 486 cases of injuries requiring absence for every 10,000 employees, a rate more than four times the national average.
  • Healthcare sees 653,000 on-the-job injuries or illnesses per year, compared to 152,000 in manufacturing.
  • There are twice as many healthcare workers in America as construction workers, but construction sees 20 OSHA inspections for every safety visit that healthcare receives.

Healthcare personnel dedicate their time and effort to saving lives; in return, they should not have to compromise their own health and safety. As anyone who has spent time in or around an operating room knows, improvements are long overdue for the hazardous conditions that lead to slips, falls, or exposure to potentially harmful hazardous materials.

Several new technologies have emerged recently that are going to transform the surgical space and eliminate these safety issues. One example of these technologies is Skyline Medical’s STREAMWAY System, which is a direct-to-drain surgical fluid waste management system that helps eliminate staff exposure to bloodborne pathogens and potentially infectious fluids while reducing institutional costs by minimizing regulated medical waste (RMW) disposal costs.

The STREAMWAY System presents a much-needed alternative to the current surgical waste disposal methods on the market. Surgical procedures can produce dozens of liters of fluids that require immediate disposal. Nurses and doctors, tasked with managing and disposing of the waste, most commonly use the traditional canister method. These canisters are either carried to a drain or sink, where they are emptied, or opened by the hospital worker, who adds a solidifying agent to the fluid. The heavy canisters are then collected and staged for disposal with the rest of the institution’s regulated medical waste. This antiquated approach poses a great health risk to the healthcare personnel, possibly exposing them to pathogenic bacteria and viruses, which include HIV and Hepatitis B and C, among others. Furthermore, it slows the surgical process and has a negative environmental impact by contributing 50 million containers of medical waste to U.S. landfills each year.

Shockingly, the canister method of surgical fluid disposal still accounts for roughly 80% of the industry’s market in the United States. The other popular method for removing surgical waste—a closed cart system that suctions and collects liquids during the surgical process—also has its drawbacks. These systems have a large footprint in the surgical area. The heavy carts need to be wheeled into another area by the staff to empty the fluid, and then wheeled back to the procedure room and wiped down prior to re-entering, causing longer OR turnarounds.

Skyline Medical’s STREAMWAY System can address many of the safety needs of healthcare personnel who are exposed to potentially hazardous fluids during surgical procedures. The System automates the process of collecting, measuring, and disposing of surgical fluid, blood, and bodily fluids to the sanitary sewer, eliminating the need for staff to manually empty suction canisters or use expensive solidifiers to dispose of suction canisters to RMW. This means that there is literally no physical handling of the surgical fluid waste. Additionally, while the traditional canister system has a limited capacity of fluid that it can hold, the STREAMWAY System provides unlimited capacity for uninterrupted performance during surgery.

So, why isn’t Skyline Medical’s technology already installed everywhere?

Many hospitals and surgical centers still aren’t aware of the options that are out there, and instead choose to rely upon the old methods despite their obvious shortcomings. Though the STREAMWAY System was FDA approved in 2009, the marketing efforts just recently began in full force. Skyline Medical is now focused on raising awareness of its technology and helping to educate the healthcare industry about the green, cost efficient, and safe solution that is currently available.

Even before the Public Citizen study, those working within the healthcare industry were aware of the various hazards present in the day-to-day life of healthcare personnel. Such hazards have an unfortunate trickle-down-effect: as healthcare personnel spend more and more time worrying about their personal safety issues, they have less time to dedicate to the patient. With the implementation of Skyline Medical’s technology, a healthcare worker could enter an operating room and focus single-handily on the wellbeing of the patient.

Our goal is to eliminate the unnecessary safety risks in the healthcare workplace, and we believe implementing the STREAMWAY System is one step along the way to creating a safer work environment. Nurses and doctors dedicate their lives to protect the lives of others—isn’t it time we tried to protect theirs too?