A University of Iowa Hospitals nurse is among six people in the nation being recognized by an international organization dedicated to preventing injuries to health care workers caused by needles and other sharp medical instruments. Renee Gould, an advanced practice nurse in Iowa City, got the award from the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society. Gould says all sorts of hospital items can pose a hazard. Anything that’s used to start an I-V, collect a blood sample or specimen, once they’ve been contaminated, they could transmit a blood-borne infection if a health care worker gets stuck by them. Gould knows about such hazards first-hand. She was injured 16 years ago and went through “heartache” over the following year which motiviated her to make it so no one else would get a similar injury and have to endure that experience. Gould says she’s been instrumental in the evaluation and implementation of “sharps” injury prevention products in use at the medical center. She’s spoken on the subject to a variety of audiences, from local Rotary Clubs to the Governor of Iowa’s Needlestick Study Group. When Gould first started working as a nurse at University Hospitals in 1989, she was drawing blood from a patient for a blood-sugar test. Gould says when she removed the needle that had poked the patient, she was poked too with the needle that was contaminated with the patient’s blood. She went through a full year of AIDS testing, fearing she may have contracted HIV, while she also had a then-16-month old child and a husband she was worried about contaminating. It turned out that she was fine and from the bad experience, Gould says she was inspired to become a better nurse. She jokes her co-workers now consider her the resident “safety queen.”
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