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Needlestick Safety Frustrations Continue

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 7:24am

With Infection Prevention Week and the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses) recently unveiled a study focusing on some frustrations regarding a lack of progress in implementing the strategies outlined in the Act. Several experts on OR management and safety are calling for new standards to protect surgical teams and patients from accidental needle sticks and the risks associated with the transfer of bloodborne pathogens. Some of the immediate strategies they're calling for include:

  • The proper reporting of needlestick injuries.
  • The use of safety engineered devices such as blunt-tip suture needles.
  • Double gloving.
  • Establishing a neutral zone for passing sharp instruments.

Experts including Deborah G. Spratt, RN, Ramon Berguer, MD, Sherri Alexander, CST, Sue Barnes, RN and Linda Groah, RN are calling for these changes in response to a rise in the number of accidental needle sticks in surgical settings over the past decade. According to the experts, many hospitals and surgical practices are not complying with the standards set in the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. The experts focus on how needlesticks affect all healthcare workers including:

  • Nurses: Nurses and surgical technologists sustain 80 percent of the sharps injuries in the OR. Suture needle injuries occur frequently when passing surgical instruments and nurses would like to implement a hands-free passing system.
  • Surgeons: Accidental sticks among surgeons are often not reported because of the time and reporting requirements. They are also often slow to adopt new technologies, including safety devices such as blunt-tip suture needles.
  • Surgical technologists: Surgical technologists call for the entire perioperative team to be better educated about strategies to improve safety.
  • Infection prevention specialists: Experts call for all surgical suites to strive toward a goal of zero incidence of infection in the OR associated with accidental needle stick.
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