Students help make Campus Health safer

By Stephanie Hall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Students who need an IV from Campus Health Services can thank a UA nursing student for a greatly improved needleless system.

Jennifer Rice, who graduated from the UA College of Nursing in Dec., implemented a needle-less IV tubing system last semester, which has improved the safety for nurses and students alike.

Rice noticed the tubing Campus Health used with their IVs required needle puncture, something she had never seen before because most hospitals use a safer screw-in system.

"I saw a problem that could be fixed," Rice said, who now works at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Before the needleless system, Campus Health would puncture a site that stuck out of the tubing, Rice said.

"The problem with that is the needle. And with that, the risk of sticking yourself or the patient," Rice said.

Rice said such equipment was outdated compared to the needleless system she had been using during her shifts at hospitals. The needleless system uses a syringe containing the drug that screws directly into a port on the IV tubing.

The danger with needles is the risk of needle sticks, which can expose a nurse to hepatitis, HIV and anything else the patient might have, said Shari Overland, a nurse who worked closely with Rice during her clinical rotation.

Rice suggested the change to Campus Health as a part of a "quality improvement" class project.

"The assignment was hypothetical," Rice said. "But because they did have a need and they were open to making the change, it became an actual improvement."

Rice's research found that health care workers suffer at least 600,000 needle sticks per year and follow-ups can cost around $3,000 per case.

"The process for lab work if someone gets stuck (takes) between a year and three years," said Lisette LeCorgne, a nurse practitioner at Campus Health.

Rice, along with two of her classmates, Kim Prince and Lindsay Davis, presented their class project to the Campus Health staff, and they liked the idea, Rice said.

"A lot of the nurses (at Campus Health) are older, so they felt OK with the needle system," Overland said.

In the past two years, Campus Health has had two needle-stick injuries among the nursing students, Overland said. Neither required follow-ups because the needles had not yet been used and were considered sterile.

Overland said the nursing students are less comfortable using needles because of their more recent exposure to hospital care, where governmental regulations have limited the use of needles.

Campus Health is regulated by the College Health Association and follows different governmental regulations than hospitals, Overland said.

"Right when we were making the change, another nursing student rotated through (Campus Health) and she stuck herself," said Rice. "When it happened, they were so glad they were making the change."

Since the implementation of Rice's new IV insertion method, Campus Health has become safer.

"Jennifer basically made campus health a safer environment for nurses and nursing students," Overland said. "We're so grateful."

LeCorgne said the "give-and-receive relationship" between the nurses and the nursing students is vital.

"We share our wisdom, and they share their up-to-date information," she said.