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Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;110(6):1399-403.

Preventing needlestick injuries in obstetrics and gynecology: how can we improve the use of blunt tip needles in practice?

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Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women, San Diego, California, USA.


Surgical needlestick injuries are common in obstetrics and gynecology and can cause transmission of viral diseases including hepatitis and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Strategies to reduce the rate of needlestick injuries include using instruments rather than fingers to retract tissue and grasp needles, double gloving, using surgical staplers for skin closure, and substituting blunt tip surgical needles for sharp tip needles where applicable. Studies have shown the use of blunt tip surgical needles to be remarkably effective in reducing needlestick injuries. Despite recommendations by the American College of Surgeons that blunt tip surgical needles be used routinely, at least for fascial closure, and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety that these devices be used whenever medically appropriate, use in obstetrics and gynecology appears to be limited. Potential barriers to use include availability, the "feel" of the needle as it penetrates tissue, and habit. We suggest that blunt tip surgical needles have the potential to replace traditional needles for many obstetric and gynecologic applications. If their use is to become more widespread, we must focus on availability, evaluation for specific applications, and physician education.

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