To put it bluntly, the FDA, CDC, NIOSH, and OSHA want to see more use of blunt-tip suture needles in operating rooms.
The four federal agencies posted a joint announcement on May 30  reminding “health care professionals to use blunt-tip suture needles as an alternative to standard suture needles when suturing fascia and muscle to decrease the risk of needlestick injury.”
The announcement, which was directed to among others, surgeons, operating room supervisors, perioperative nurses, hospital risk managers, occupational health and safety managers, and infection peventionistscited studies that show needlesticks continue to occur at higher rates in surgical settings than in other areas of healthcare and that “using blunt-tip suture needles reduces the risk of needlestick injuries from suture needles by 69 percent.”
Even though the safer needles cost 70 cents more than standard suture needles, the announcement makes a case for their use.
“A 2007 report suggests that the slight difference in costs of blunt- and sharp-tip suture needles is balanced by the economic savings associated with needlestick injury prevention. This report, which assessed the costs of managing occupational exposures to blood and body fluids, concluded that the cost of managing a needlestick injury can range from $376 to $2,456 per reported incident.”
The recommendation section of the joint announcement reads: “The FDA, NIOSH, and OSHA strongly encourage health care 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 to surgical personnel.”