Developing a "Sharps Injury Prevention Team"

Roy H. Constantine  PA-C, MPH, PhD, FCCM, DFAAPA

Former CSPS Representative and Chair

Article originally printed in Sutureline: May/Jun 2014 p. 8

As a member of the CSPS, the AASPA is actively participating in a “Sharps Safety Campaign.” The AORN has developed a two-year Sharps safety campaign strategy that will decrease the number of Sharps injuries in the operating room. To be successful CSPS members will work collaboratively to promote educational tools and resources that can be used by each member of the surgical team. The four focus areas will include Engineered Sharps Injury Protection Devices, Double Gloving, the Neutral Zone and the use of Blunt Suture Needles.

In this submission I will touch on the Center for Disease Control resources that focus on the “Prevention of Sharps Injury and the Development of a Sharps Injury Prevention Team.”

To learn more about “Exposure Prevention Information” a good resource is the “International Healthcare Worker Safety Center.”  The Exposure Prevention Network (EpiNet) was developed by Janine Jagger MPH, PhD and colleagues in 1991. Detailed information can be obtained on targeting high-risk devices in the institutional setting. In addition, data can be obtained that “identifies injuries that may be prevented with safer medical devices, information on successful prevention measures, efficacy of new devices designed to prevent injury, targeted high-risk devices, procedures for interventions and injury frequencies.” (University of Virginia Health System)

The International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS) is “comprised of medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, health organizations, healthcare professionals, medical waste disposal experts, hospitals, insurance industry, managed care organizations, alternate site providers, correction officials, law enforcement personnel and others that have joined forces to provide education, information and product knowledge that will help reduce the number of sharps injuries that occur yearly.”  The Society promotes multiple activities, which include seminars, associations, chapters, presentations, articles and on-line education (ISIPS).

Sustainable HOSPITALS is part of The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and is located at the University of Massachusetts. Their long-term goal “is to redefine environmentalism and occupational health and safety while also demonstrating how these concepts are compatible with new systems of production and consumption that are healthy for workers, environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially oriented.”  The site allows the user four ways to find alternative products. Products can be searched by category, by manufacturer, by the particular hazard and by the product itself (Sustainable HOSPITALS).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) collects shared experiences on how safer medical device practices were implemented. Interventions, barriers, lessons learned are discussed.


A strong healthcare intervention is the “Development of a Sharps Injury Prevention Team.”  The CDC site – Bloodborne Infectious Diseases: HIV/AIDS, HEPATITIS B, HEPATIS C provides seven hospital power points that revolve around criteria for member selection, description of a team, designating a team coordinator, task force coordination and mechanisms for product review (NIOSH).


The CDC also has an excellent “Workbook for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program.”  The information in the workbook is for application in your healthcare settings. The content provides a strong overview, organizational steps, operational processes, helpful references which include “toolkits” (CDC workbook).


AORN has several publications on this topic. Two excellent submissions that I reviewed include: 1) Sharps Injury Prevention in the Perioperative Setting (An AORN Guidance Statement) and 2) AORN Sharps Safety Tool Kit – Selection of Sharps Injury Prevention Devices (with adaptation from the CDC workbook).


It is extremely important to enhance “Sharp Injury” awareness. All members of the Council on Surgical and Perioperative Safety (CSPS) are united in this campaign. Excellent resources can be obtained from each of the professional sites (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN), Association of perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) and the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants (AASPA). We are passionately united in providing you with education to overcome dangers associated with needle sticks and sharps injury.