Smiths Medical, an international medical device firm with its U.S. headquarters in Arden Hills, said Monday U.S. regulators have cleared a device designed to reduce the risk of blood exposure and needlestick injury.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Smiths' ViaValve Safety I.V. Catheter can help reduce the risk of blood exposure by integrating a tiny valve in the catheter's hub. This impedes the backflow of blood from the patient's vein after the initial puncture.

This helps prevent the transfer of blood-borne pathogens from the patient to caregiver on soiled gloves, clothing, bedding and dressings by maintaining a clean access site, the company said.

The new catheter also helps prevent inadvertent needlesticks, which affect about 800,000 U.S. hospital health care workers a year.

Smiths Medical is the North American division of Smiths Group, based in Great Britain.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752