Scalpel injuries in the operating theatre

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39548.418009.80 (Published 08 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1031
  1. Amber M Watt, research officer1,
  2. Michael Patkin, lecturer2,
  3. Michael J Sinnott, senior staff specialist in emergency medicine3,
  4. Robert J Black, otolaryngology head and neck surgeon 4,
  5. Guy J Maddern, surgical director1
  1. 1Australian Safety and Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures—Surgical (ASERNIP-S), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Stepney SA 5069, Australia
  2. 2Discipline of Surgery, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
  3. 3Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba QLD 4102, Australia
  4. 4Mater Hospital, South Brisbane QLD 4101, Australia
  1. asernips{at}surgeons.org

International evidence based guidelines are needed to standardise approaches to reducing risk

Despite recognition of the need to reduce injuries from sharp instruments in healthcare settings, the focus has been more on reducing needlestick injuries than on other causes of injury, such as those caused by scalpel blades in operating theatres.

The operating theatre is a unique environment in which many healthcare professionals work in close proximity, often over long periods, and often under emergency conditions. This environment increases the chances of healthcare workers sustaining serious injuries from scalpel blades.

Scalpel injuries represent a multi-faceted risk as they cause mechanical injury and expose both the injured worker and the patient to the risk of contracting blood borne infection. The sequelae of scalpel injuries are time consuming, emotionally fraught, …

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