Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2018

3 Sharp Ideas to Improve Sharps Safety

Here's how we responded to a worrisome uptick in needlesticks and cuts.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy, BSN, RN


Sharon Bouyer-Ferullo

Sharon Bouyer-Ferullo, DNP, RN, MHA, CNOR


NEUTRAL TERRITORY The surgical team identifies the location of the hands-free passing zone during the pre-op time out.

A twitch, a blink, a sudden movement. When you're passing sharp objects in a busy operating room, the slightest miscalculation can result in — ouch! — a painful and potentially dangerous stick. It's one of the frightening realities that your OR staff live with. So is the reality that although you never know for sure what any given patient might be carrying, you do know that it takes only an instant for one person to infect another. That's why everyone should treat every sharps injury as something that could have severe consequences.

At our hospital, we receive sharps-injury reports every month, so it was a little surprising and concerning when we saw increasing rates of sharps injuries. Between 2014 and 2016, the numbers had risen from 121 to 135 to 140. And of course, we knew those were just the reported sticks. We strongly encourage staff to report injuries, but studies suggest that sharps incidents often go unreported, either because people are afraid or embarrassed, or because they decide it's just not worth the trouble. Either way, we knew it was time to reverse the trend. Here's how we did it.

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