ACS Issues Patient-Safety Statements on Preventing Retained Foreign Bodies After Surgery, Needlestick Injuries

CHICAGO -- With patient safety at the forefront of its efforts to safeguard the care of the surgical patient, the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) at its June 2005 meeting approved two statements intended to augment current efforts to safeguard patients during surgical procedures. The first Statement on Prevention of Retained Foreign Bodies after Surgery strongly urges individual hospitals and healthcare organizations to take all reasonable measures to prevent the retention of foreign bodies in the surgical wound.

In the statement, the ACS offers guidelines for preventing such occurrences, including the encouragement of good communication among perioperative personnel and the consistent application of reliable and standardized processes of care. The statement also recommends efforts for preventing the retention of sponges, sharps, instruments and other items, which include counting procedures, wound exploration prior to closure of the surgical site, use of items that are X-ray detectable, and extensive documentation of the factors that affect the OR environment. Furthermore, the ACS concludes that "surgical facilities must provide resources to ensure that necessary equipment and personnel are available to support these perioperative surgical safety measures."

The Statement on Blunt Suture Needles addresses the need for methods of reducing the rate of cuts and needlestick injuries that occur during operations. This statement explains that cuts and needlestick injuries happen in approximately one to 15 percent of all operations, with the most common cause of suture needle injury being the suturing of fascia, during which 59 percent of all suture needle injuries occur. Therefore, ACS believes that blunt suture needles should be available in various sizes and with a range of suture adequate for different surgical applications and that the use of blunt suture needles is an important factor in reducing or even eliminating a prevalent occupational hazard for surgeons.

Source: The American College of Surgeons