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Perioperative sharps safety

Sharps injuries are a significant issue for all healthcare workers within the perioperative environment. A significant proportion of sharps injuries occur in this environment. The epidemiology of sharps injuries in the operating room differs from that in other healthcare locations.

Percutaneous injury to perioperative healthcare workers place patients at risk also. Open wounds are susceptible to contamination and healthcare worker injuries often result in bleeding which may result in an exposure to the patient.

Example perioperative sharps safety program

  • Eliminate the unnecessary use of sharps
    • Removing sharp object from use when feasible
      • Explore alternative cutting methods, for example electro surgery
      • Use alternative suture devices, for example stapling devices, glues
  • Engineering controls
    • Healthcare workers use sharps with safety-engineered devices that isolate or remove the risk
    • Blunt-tip suture needles, safety scalpels etc. are substituted as reasonable
  • Safe procedures/work practice controls
    • When handling sharp devices
      • Neutral zone or hand-free technique for passing sharps
      • No touch technique when handling sharps
    • Minimising the handling of sharps
    • Sharp devices are contained and disposed of safely
  • Personal protective equipment
    • Double gloving for scrubbed team members
    • Wearing appropriate protective footwear
  • Education program regarding sharps injury prevention for all team members

For more information and resources, please refer to the page: Developing a sharps safety program

Last updated: 10 July 2017