Education can increase awareness.


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Among health care workers, OR personnel have a higher-than-average risk of sustaining percutaneous injuries because of the handling of sharp instruments and the exposure to blood and open surgical sites. Operating room (OR) nurses at the University of Michigan Health Systems have implemented an educational intervention that appears to be raising awareness of the risk of percutaneous injuries in the OR.


They held a kick-off staff inservice program to provide information on the incidence of such injuries, inform staff members about an easy-to-use body substance exposure (BSE) kit, and distribute green stickers with reporting information. Information on the program, bloodborne disease incidence, exposure reporting, the use of personal protection, the number of monthly exposures per service, and injured personnel was posted at each scrub sink. A poster on each OR door reminded personnel to wear protective equipment.


Inventory levels show an increased use of personal protective equipment including double gloves and goggles and increased use of BSE kits. The number of reported exposures increased from 46 during the three months preceding the program to 65 during the three months after its implementation-the increase is attributed to the program policy of encouraging reporting, not to an increase in exposures. In fact, employees are actually overreporting harmless exposures.


Effects on percutaneous injury rates per 1,000 cases will be reported one year after the program's inception.


Holodnick CL, et al. AORN J 2000;72(3):461-76.