[black small square] I agree with the authors of "Puncturing Myths about Body Piercing and Tattooing" (November 2008)*: We need to dispel the myths associated with these practices. However, as an RN with 30 years of OR experience, I don't think the article did justice to possible surgical complications or liability issues of treating patients with body piercings.
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No electrical surgical cautery generator burns associated with jewelry have been reported for years. Because of this, many believe that jewelry is no longer a risk factor. But product manufacturers still list this type of burn as a possibility. If we allow removable metal items to remain on the patient when this equipment is being used, we're not using the product according to the manufacturers' instructions. This exposes RNs and the institution to liability if a patient is injured.
In our OR, all earrings or earring holes must be covered with a scrub cap. Rings and studs can injure staff or patients, and they provide the perfect environment for infection-causing organisms. I try to meet my patients' requests whenever possible. I simply can't justify leaving jewelry in place when it presents a danger to patient or staff.
JAN GALIBER, RN, BSN
*Individual subscribers can also access these articles free online at http://www.nursing2009.com. [Context Link]