Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Safety Communication Addresses Blunt-Tip Surgical Suture Needles

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NIOSH and OSHA, posted a joint safety communication encouraging healthcare professionals in surgical settings to use blunt-tip suture needles to suture muscle and fascia, when clinically appropriate, to reduce the risk of needlestick injury and subsequent pathogen transmission.

Needlestick injuries continue to occur in surgical settings when suturing muscle and fascia, despite the availability of safety-engineered devices, such as blunt-tip suture needles, and the endorsement of their use by professional organizations. Needlestick injuries have the potential to expose healthcare personnel to bloodborne viruses, such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus.

The American College of Surgeons recommends the universal adoption of blunt-tip suture needles as the first choice for the closure of fascia and muscle. This statement is endorsed by 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. The 2011 Viral Hepatitis Action Plan also recommends the use of blunt-tip suture needles to help reduce device-related needlestick exposures among healthcare personnel.

Find OSHA's information on bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention here; FAQs about the Needlestick Safety & Prevention Act here; a CDC health bulletin here; and an FDA report on medical device reporting guidance here.