Sharps Injuries Continue to Increase in Surgical Settings

Suture needles, scalpel blades, and syringes account for most of the sharps injuries

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Despite legislation introduced in 2000, surgical sharps injuries continue to increase, according to a study published in the March issue of the AORN Journal.

Janine Jagger, M.P.H., Ph.D., from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues assessed percutaneous injury surveillance data from 87 U.S. hospitals between 1996 to 2003 before and after the passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000. Rates of 31,324 sharps injuries were compared in surgical and nonsurgical settings, and the devices and circumstances associated with injuries were determined.

The researchers found that 7,186 sharps injuries were to surgical personnel. Following the passage of the legislation, the rates of injury in nonsurgical settings decreased by 31.6 percent, while in surgical settings they increased by 6.5 percent. Suture needles accounted for most of the injuries (43.4 percent), and scalpel blades and syringes accounted for 17 and 12 percent, respectively. Three-quarters of the injuries took place during usage or while passing the devices. Although nurses and surgical technicians were most often injured, the injury-causing devices were most often originally used by surgeons and residents.

"Despite legislation and advances in sharps safety technology, surgical injuries continued to increase during the period that nonsurgical injuries decreased significantly. Hospitals should comply with requirements for the adoption of safer surgical technologies," the authors write.

One author disclosed a financial relationship with Ethicon Inc., a surgical supplies company.

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Categories: Nursing Surgery

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