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'Sharps' injuries have major health and cost impact for surgeons
Date:4/2/2013

lines for post-exposure prevention, depending on whether the patient has any known transmissible infections. Recommendations include antiviral medications for healthcare workers exposed to HIV and hepatitis B or C virusideally starting within hours after the injury.

As a result of the need for testing and treatment, sharps injuries have a major economic impact. Average costs for testing, follow-up and preventive treatment range from $375 for needlestick exposure from a patient with no known blood-borne illness, up to nearly $2,500 for injuries from a patient with known HIV.

Need for Increased Emphasis on Reporting and Prevention Post-exposure prevention can only be executed if the injury is reported. One study found that 70 percent of surgeons "never or rarely" report sharps injuries. They may feel they "don't have time" to report, or may misunderstand the risks involved.

"Fortunately, the majority of sharps injuries are preventable," Dr. Chung and colleagues write. Engineered safety devices can prevent many injuriesespecially if surgeons and other workers are involved in choosing to use them. Other options include the use of "non-sharp" alternatives, creating safe procedures for passing sharp instruments and wearing double gloves to reduce the risk of infection.

Over the years, regulations have been introduced to ensure that proper prevention and reporting strategies are in place. Introduction of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000 led to an overall 38 percent reduction in injuries in all care settings. However, one study reported that the rate of sharps injuries in the operating room actually increased. "Although preventive strategies exist, their success ultimately relies on clinician compliance," Dr. Chung and coauthors write.

The authors hope their review will help to increase awareness of the risks and potential harms of sharps injuries among surgeons and operating room personnel, and to increase a
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Contact: Connie Hughes
connie.hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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