Healthcare News & Insights

Ouch! Surgical sharps injuries on the rise

This hurts in more ways than one: Since passage of a new safety law, surgical sharps injuries have increased more than 6% — while injuries in nonsurgical settings dropped more than 30%. The question is: Why?

The data comes from a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The study analyzed data from 87 hospitals between 1993 to 2006.

Since the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, injury rates in surgical settings ticked up, while nonsurgical settings saw a steep decline.

The researchers said the reason for the discrepancy wasn’t clear, but theorized that a few “cultural” factors might be at play, including the reluctance of surgical teams to change the workflow of established procedures to address sharps injuries.

Additionally, sharps injuries in surgical settings are less likely to be reported, because staffers are:

  • concerned about disrupting surgical schedules
  • reluctant to have to acknowledge a bloodborne infection that could hurt their careers, and
  • generally willing to accept that a certain number of “sticks” are inevitable in surgery.

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  1. Hi Carol,
    Thank you for bringing this import issue to light. Interesting research.