Use of blunt-tip suture needles encouraged to reduce injuries
Government and other organizations are strongly recommending replacing standard suture needles with blunt-tip needles when suturing fascia and muscle.
Using blunt-tip suture needles reduces the risk of needlestick injuries by 69 percent, according to research studies. While blunt-tip needles cost about $0.70 more than the standard variety, "the benefits of reducing the risk of serious and potentially fatal blood-borne infections for health care personnel support their use when clinically appropriate," according to a Joint Safety Communication.
The Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and OSHA teamed up for the campaign to protect surgical health care workers. They say more than half of needlestick injuries involving suture needles occur during the suturing of fascia or muscle at a cost of between $376 and $2,456 per incident.
Experts estimate there are 384,000 needlestick injuries occurring in hospitals annually, of which 23 percent are in surgical settings. The injuries may expose health care workers to bloodborne viruses, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
OSHA revised its bloodborne pathogen standard in 2001and requires the use of safer devices, such as blunt-tip suture needles, when clinically appropriate. In 2007, OSHA and NIOSH issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin emphasizing OSHA's requirement and NIOSH's recommendation to use the alternative needles.
Other organizations encouraging the use of blunt-tip suture needles for closing fascia and muscle include the American College of Surgeons, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, and Association of Surgical Technologists.
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July 16, 2012
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