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Could concurrent surgery affect sharps safety?

December 24, 2015

Concurrent surgeries are a common practice for many busy hospitals but a new report has questioned whether it could be something that is putting both healthcare workers and patients at risk.

There have been concerns that asking surgeons to do two complex surgeries at the same time. This often involves specialists moving from one theatre to another to do small but significant elements of each procedure, before allowing others to finish the surgery. It is hoped that this save times and enables top-class surgeons to help the most amount of patients, but there have been concerns that this could be affecting patients and other healthcare workers.

It is well-documented that stress and fatigue can have a negative impact on the risk of needlestick injuries, potentially meaning that concurrent surgeries could increase this danger for healthcare workers.

A report, Healthcare Risk Management, highlights the risk of putting surgeons under such pressure in the operating theatre. 

It's important that all healthcare workers get their recommended breaks on a regular basis as being tired and stressed can significantly increase the risk of suffering a needlestick injury.  

Operating theatres are one of the highest risk areas for healthcare workers in terms of the dangers of sustaining an injury from a medical sharp. Part of this is because there is a concentrated amount of sharps objects when preparing for an operation, but also it's a very stressful and high-pressure environment.

If healthcare workers are overworked and suffering from fatigue or exceptionally high levels of stress, the risk of sustaining a percutaneous injury from a medical sharp is significantly increased. 

The risk is also increased if healthcare workers are new or inexperienced, making it crucial that professionals are trained and supported throughout their first months in their role, until they are confident and comfortable with it.

It also makes it important that all healthcare professionals are aware of the latest guidelines and regulations involving needlesticks and medical sharps. This is essential even when nurses or doctors may have experience in another hospital or department as the protocol on sharps safety can be drastically different.

Some major hospitals have banned concurrent surgeries for some of the most complex surgeries to limit the amount of risk surgeons are exposed to, and the level of pressure they are under. It is also hoped that this lowers the danger of them becoming fatigued or overly stressed.

However, it is still important that sharps safety is a prime concern for all healthcare workers in an operating theatre.

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