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Archive January 2020 XXI, No. 1

Sharpen Your Knowledge of Sharps Safety

6 surprising facts about sharps injury prevention

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


Susan Angelides, MSN, BSBM, CNOR, RNFA
SPEARED A drill bit pierced a tech's skin when the surgeon passed him the drill.

Let's test your knowledge of sharps safety with a few surprising facts and figures that go beyond ensuring that the surgeon and the scrub nurse never touch the same instrument at the same time with hands-free passing, no-pass zones, passing trays and single-handed scalpel blade removal. Hopefully, this will help you build a safer sharps safety program at your facility.

1. It's not just needles and scalpels. When you think of sharps injuries, needlesticks and scalpel blades probably come to mind as the clear and present dangers in the OR. And for good reason. Needlesticks are the No. 1 cause of injury among operating room personnel and scalpels are the second most frequent. Drill bits? They rank near the bottom of the sharps injury list, but they can injure and we've got the picture atop this page to prove it: a bit sticking straight up out of a scrub tech's gloved palm like a tiny javelin.

The bit was still spinning when the surgeon whipped around to pass the drill off to the unsuspecting tech, whirring fast enough to puncture the glove and penetrate the tech's skin. "The physician probably still had his foot on the power button when he pushed the drill toward the scrub tech's hand," says Susan Angelides, MSN, BSBM, CNOR, RNFA, a perioperative services consultant based in Scottsdale, Ariz., who supplied us with the photo.

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