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Sharps injuries up in surgical settings: study

March 16, 2011

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Charlottesville, VA – Surgical sharps injuries continue to increase despite legislation to curb them, indicates a study from the University of Virginia.

Researchers examined data from 87 U.S. hospitals between 1993 and 2006 before and after passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (.pdf file). Of 31,324 injuries, 7,186 were suffered by surgical personnel, according to a study abstract. Following passage of the act, sharps injury rates decreased by 31.6 percent in non-surgical settings but increased 6.5 percent in surgical settings.

Three-fourths of the injuries occurred while using or passing the sharps device, which include suture needles, scalpel blades and syringes, the abstract said. Surgeons and residents most often were the original users of the devices, while nurses and surgical technicians usually were injured by devices used by others.

The study appeared in the March issue of AORN Journal.

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