Transitioning to Blunt Suture Needles in Obstetric Operating Rooms: Results From a Quality Improvement Project [2G]

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Our objective was to identify impact of transition to blunt-tip suture needles in obstetric procedures on incidence of needlestick injuries (NSI) in obstetric residents and attendings.

METHODS:

All OBGYN residents and attending physicians in a tertiary care hospital were surveyed regarding NSI. Following this, suture needles in obstetric operating rooms were changed to blunt needles. A one-year follow-up survey was then sent.

RESULTS:

Prior to introduction of blunt needles, 28% of attendings had at least one NSI in previous year. Eight needlesticks were sustained in the year preceding transition to blunt needles versus 1 in the year following transition (P=.05) in attendings. Prior to their introduction, greater than 70% of attendings believed blunt needles would reduce NSI; following introduction, only 29% still felt this to be true, despite the actual reduction in NSI occurrence among attendings (P less than .01 for change). Of the responding residents, 61% had sustained at least 1 NSI in the preceding year in the initial query; 50% sustained at least 1 NSI following the introduction to blunt suture needles. At the 1-year follow-up survey, a total of 10 NSI were recalled, with a reporting rate of 50%.

CONCLUSION:

The introduction of blunt suture needles was associated with a decrease in total recalled needlestick injuries sustained by residents and attendings. The decrease was most notable among the attending physicians, despite their perception that blunt needles were not safer. Blunt needles are an acceptable alternative to the sharp suture needles and thus should be utilized wherever feasible.

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