Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hepatitis: Sharps Injuries Remain Danger

Sharps Injuries Remain Danger, Despite Interventions
Sandhya George

Surgical teams in hospitals have not seen fewer sharps injuries since legislation was passed 10 years ago to mandate safety procedures, according to researchers. In fact, the rate of injury has increased.

Investigators found that, after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was passed in 2000, and despite widely available safety-engineered instruments, sharps injury increased among surgical staff by 6.5% whereas it decreased among nonsurgical personnel by 31.6%. Surgeons and surgical residents and fellows represented more than one-third of reported surgical injuries (15.6% and 17%, respectively), although surgical technicians and operating room nurses were the groups most likely to be injured (37.1% and 30.3%, respectively). Injuries occurred mostly when suture needles (43.4%), scalpel blades (17%) and syringes (12%) were used or passed between members of the team.

“Focusing on suture needles as the predominant cause of injury in surgical settings presents the greatest opportunity for injury reduction in the operating room,” the authors wrote. “Proven strategies for reducing suture needle injuries include substituting blunt suture needles for sharp ones when suturing less dense tissues.”
Adding weight to their recommendation, the authors cited a 2005 statement from the American College of Surgeons supporting “the universal adoption of blunt suture needles as the first choice for fascial suturing.”

Every year, more than 380,000 percutaneous injuries are reported by U.S. hospital workers, and surgical personnel underreport these injuries by more than 50%, the authors said. In this study of injury data from 87 hospitals in 11 states between 1993 and 2006, there were 7,186 injuries from sharp instruments in surgical settings and 24,138 in nonsurgical settings.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (Jagger J et al. 2010;210:496-502).

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