Mary Ogg : Sharps Injuries in the OR
In April of 2018, we held an event to bring the topic of sharps injuries back into the conversation of occupational health risks and infection prevention. While there are many risks to healthcare workers, we cannot become idle in reduction efforts. The fact that sharps injuries are still occurring at such high rates in healthcare... is not ok.
We were privileged to interview one of our speakers, Mary Ogg, who is a perioperative nursing specialist at AORN. Mary is an advocate for sharps injury awareness and provided insight into how these can happen in the operating theater – and what we can do to prevent them.
Why does the OR continue to have a higher incidence of sharps injuries?
“I think the OR is just inherently more unsafe than other areas in the hospital. We have to have sharp instruments, scalpels, and suture needles to accomplish what we need to do. The other thing is that we work as a team; so instead of just being personally responsible for myself using a Safety Engineered Device (SED), it’s a choice of responsibility for the whole team. On top of that, slipping can become a hazard too due to blood on the floor of the theater. Dim lighting is also something we have to tackle now when performing minimally invasive surgeries where technology requires a minimally lit environment."
What can OR nurses do to protect themselves against sharps injuries?
“Education, training, and competency in using SEDs. After that, the easiest thing anyone can do in the operating room is wearing double gloves. If you wear two pairs of gloves you can reduce your incidence of getting sharps injuries by 87%.”
What do you see as the biggest obstacle in sharps injury prevention?
“In the operating room I think one of the biggest obstacles is that one team member may be making the decision to use an unsafe device for the entire team – putting the whole team at risk. People gravitate towards devices they’re familiar with or that please others – even if they’re not always the safest choice. The other thing is that sometimes SEDs are brought into the environment but not used; again, people often go back to what is familiar and use old, outdated methods.”
Do nurses and frontline staff have an appropriate say in choosing a Safety Engineered Device?
“If a facility is following OSHAs Bloodborne Pathogen standard, then yes - they should be doing yearly training and evaluation of SEDs. If they’re following the Standard then yes, they should have input on the considered devices.”
What do you think is preventing healthcare workers from reporting needlestick injuries?
“I think a lot of it is they have decided their risk for exposure is low. They sometimes judge a book by its cover and make an unjust call about if the patient they’re treating is high risk or low. We should treat all our patients exactly the same because we don’t know what people have. That’s why we have the BBP standards because we could be exposed to blood and bodily fluids at any time.”
Mary what is the correct protocol if someone sustains a needlestick injury?
“You need to follow your facility’s policy and procedure for reporting a needlestick injury, then go to whichever location the procedure states you should go to for an evaluation. If you are profusely bleeding from an injury you need to address that first of course, but after that just follow your facility’s policy.”