Sterile matters: Keeping your fingers free from needlesticks and other sharps

By: August 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

We all know the basics, from no re-capping of needles to using puncture proof/sharps approved biohazard disposal boxes. However, what about all of the other ways healthcare workers become stuck, punctured, cut, and otherwise exposed to used sharps?

It happens and it can happen to you or your workers.

Preventing needle sticks and other types of sharps injuries begins with the basics and a few reminders:

  • Wear protective gloves when handling anything sharp.
  • Make sure your gloves are the right type for the task and that they fit well.
  • Refrain from casual chatter when handling sharps.
  • Ask those in your immediate company to give you a minute as you finish your responsibility. This will help to reduce the potential for unnecessary distractions.
  • If cleaning used sharp instruments, use care selecting each instrument out from the other instruments. Do not simply stick your hand into the basin to retrieve the next instrument to wash. Be very deliberate in your movements to avoid inadvertently cutting yourself.
  • Create a safety zone to place used sharps on the field or in the work area, and communicate it to the whole team. This allows the next person who needs to pick the item up or to further process it to do so safely.

Providing your team with a few simple reminders periodically may just prevent your next sharps injury. One less event is one less injury. Pass the word on: stay safe by slowing down, not taking short cuts, wearing right-fitting gloves, and stick to using sharp safety zones.

Check the Tools download page for more needlestick prevention resources.


By Kathy Manus on August 30th, 2010 at 10:59 am

I have a question regarding Nitrile exam gloves. At a recent CE course some of my staff was told that nitrile exam gloves provided protection when using the hospital grade disinfectant to clean a dental operatory. It is my understanding that the heavy nitrile gloves should be worn when cleaning a dental operatory…not any type of exam glove…nitrile or latex. Please, clarify for me.
Thank You,
K Manus

The key is “heavy duty” regardless of the type of material (nitrile or latex.)

A nitrile exam glove provides no more protection than a latex exam glove when it comes to sharps.


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