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Question: Is there a fail safe way to hand off sharps?
Response: The Operating Room is the second most common environment where sharps injuries occur. The Center for Disease Control provides an excellent resource on line, Workbook for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program. I believe this is the most important approach to preventing injuries to health care personnel. An interdisciplinary team initiative with a focus on building a culture of safety that addresses sharps injuries with a strong prevention program. Emphasis needs to be placed on engineering controls, isolating the hazards and providing safer devices for use by the health care worker. All team members need to be invested in the program.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates a standard on Bloodborne Pathogens which explicitly require use of safety engineered sharp devices. OSHAs fact sheet, Bloodborne Pathogens online states Bloodborne pathogens are infectious materials in blood that can cause disease in humans, including hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Workers exposed to these pathogens risk serious illness or death.Â (http://www.OSHA.gov)
Now to the root of the question. There are a number of methods to safely hand off sharps in the operating room and procedure areas.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Operating room controls include:
The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses, AORN has developed a Guidance Statement: Sharps Injury Prevention in the Perioperative Setting. Many of the engineering and work practice controls addressed are covered. The statement also emphasizes the importance of adopting and incorporating safe habits into daily work activities when preparing and using sharp devices. Other important areas of focus are directing attention to the task at hand and minimizing rushing and distractions when handling sharps. The Guidance Statement gives rational information on broader risk reduction strategies, responsibilities for the individual perioperative nurse, employer responsibilities, overcoming obstacles to compliance and selecting and evaluating new products. It is another tool to assist the Registered Perioperative Nurse and the surgical team to provide a safe environment for the patient and the employee.
Workbook for designing, implementing, and evaluating a sharps injury prevention program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/sharpssafety (accessed 5/25/06)
Bloodborne Pathogens OSHA Fact Sheet, http://www.OSHA.gov (accessed 5/25/06 )
Standards, Recommended Practices, and Guidelines 2006 Edition With Official AORN Statements, AORN, Inc.