154711 OSHA addresses OR safety: Blunt-tip suture needles reduce injury risk to surgical personnel

Monday, November 5, 2007: 11:15 AM

Sheila Brown Arbury, RN, MPH, COHN-S , U.S.Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Washington, DC
Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens may occur when employees receive an injury that penetrates their skin (percutaneous injury). In the surgical setting, sharp-tip suture needles are the leading cause of percutaneous injuries (PIs). PIs caused by suture needles not only injure surgical staff – surgeons, nurses, techs, students, and others - but also represent a patient safety issue since patients are at risk of exposure to injured surgical staff's blood. One alternative to sharp-tip suture needles is blunt-tip suture needles which may be used to suture less-dense tissue, including muscle and fascia. A CDC evaluation of suture use in gynecologic surgery found that the use of blunt-tip suture needles was associated with statistically significant reductions in PI rates. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has issued a position statement supporting “universal institutional adoption” of blunt-tip suture needles for suturing muscle and fascia. This presentation by OSHA staff will describe the hazard of sharp-tip suture needles, present evidence of the effectiveness of blunt-tip suture needles in decreasing PIs to surgical personnel, and emphasize OSHA's requirement in the Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) to use safer medical devices – in this case, blunt-tip suture needles - where clinically appropriate.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the hazard of sharp-tip suture needles in the surgical setting. 2. Discuss the effectiveness of blunt-tip suture needles in decreasing injuries to surgical personnel. 3. Discuss OSHA’s requirement to use safer medical devices as expressed in the Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).

Keywords: Health Care Workers, Infectious Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.