Sharps Handling Safety: Sharp-Edged Tools Handled by Medical Team Members
Sharp Instruments (“Sharps”) can include needles, scalpels, lancets, razor blades, and broken glass. These instruments can expose handlers to viruses and bacteria that can cause a serious infection. Because of the danger of sharps, it is critically important that all medical professionals follow proper safety recommendations when using sharp instruments.
Sharps Handling Safety - Universal Precaution Protocols
Each physician’s office or hospital must use universal precaution protocols, and all staff members should receive handling safety training to ensure safe handling habits become top of mind.
Always assume that sharp instruments are contaminated.
Keep sharp instruments in view at all times.
Uncap only one needle at a time.
Use tongs, forceps, or a similar tool to avoid directly touching any broken glass.
Discard contaminated needles and syringes into a designated sharps container immediately after use.
Proper Collection and Disposal of Needles and Syringes – The Sharps Container
The best sharps containers are non-breakable and leak-proof boxes with a tight lid. They must be puncture resistant, to ensure that contaminated needles do not rupture the container. They should be red and labeled with a biohazard symbol. All doctor’s office examination rooms and hospital rooms should have a sharps container to protect physicians, staff, and patients.
Create Safe Habits for Handling Sharps
Medical professionals must use care even when using sterilized sharps, because creating safe habits, such as treating all sharps as contaminated, prevents infections.
Doctors should never remove a needle cap with their mouth, for example, and they must take care when handing sharps to another person. Rather than passing sharps from hand to hand, which creates a risk of puncture or cut, set down the sharp in a safe place like a tray and let the other person pick it up carefully.
Even if a physician handles sharps perfectly, they still cause a risk.
For example, a doctor may place a contaminated needle in an over-full sharps container, causing risk for the technician who empties the container. Health care professionals should never fill a sharps container more than 3/4 full.
It is also dangerous to force needles or other sharps into a full container, or to attempt to retrieve a discarded sharp from a container.
Physicians and their medical team members must always follow universal precaution protocols. Be extra careful around sharps containers and practice safe handling habits in order to protect themselves from the dangers of sharp instruments.
Physician’s Workplace Safety Advice from the Preferred Connect Insurance Center
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