Sharps Injury Data- The problem with
currently available safety scalpels
14 November, 2011

A recent study published by the American College of Surgeons titled, ‘Increase in Sharps Injuries in Sur gical Settings Versus Nonsurgical Settings After Passage of National Needlestick Legislation’ reported the following data relating to sharps injuries:

...scalpel blade injuries cannot be prevented by safety scalpels currently available on the market, because these scalpels are loaded with a sharp-tipped blade.’ Of the top three devices that cause sharps injuries, suture needles, scalpels, and disposable syringes , the majority of injuries occur near the beginning of the use-disposal cycle—that is, during use, while passing the device, or between steps of a multi- step procedure. Injuries during these early phases accounted for 83.5% of suture needle injuries, 69.8% of scalpel blade injuries, and 51.9% of injuries from disposable syringes.

These findings are significant because they reveal that scalpel blade injuries cannot be prevented by safety scalpels currently available on the market, because these scalpels are loaded with a sharp-tipped blade.

The focus, so far, has been on the prevention of preventable injures that may occur, for example, during passing with the use of engineering controls such as retractable safety scalpels or retractable shield scalpels. These mechanisms are an attempt to control the risk that a sharp-tipped scalpel blade poses.