Surgical Techs and Nurses Weigh in on Their Need for Better Safety Scalpels

August 25, 2017

By: Adeline Yi, Anzen™ Product Manager

Our previous post detailed surgeons’ unmet needs for an acceptable safety scalpel. But surgeons are not the only OR personnel voicing a need for better safety scalpels.

OR nurses and surgical techs are calling for safety scalpels that are safer and easier to use—for good reason. They are the ones on the front lines for injury.

In an analysis of percutaneous injuries from 87 U.S. hospitals, reported in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 75% of sharps injuries occurred during the passing of devices. While surgeons and residents were most often the original users of these devices, nurses and surgical technicians were typically the people sustaining the injuries1.


Data from large, multihospital surveillance networks and national surveys demonstrate the impact of sharps injuries on surgical techs and nurses:

  • A recent MediPurpose survey of more than 200 nurses revealed that fully 83% of OR nurses had personally witnessed a scalpel-related injury. Of those injuries, 36% happened to the nurses themselves, while 41% were incurred by surgical techs, and 23% by surgeons.
  • Data from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System revealed that 41% of sharps injuries were sustained by nurses, 21% by surgical techs and 29% by surgeons2.
  • Nurses also incurred the largest share of sharps injuries (34%) in 2007 data from the EPINet Sharps Injury Surveillance research group (EPINet-SIS), followed by doctors at 32%3.


The economic and emotional impact on injured personnel is significant. In a survey of nurses injured by sharps in 381 different US hospitals:

    • Nurses missed 88 days of work as a direct result of their injury
    • 42% felt anxious, depressed, or stressed4

In a related study of 634 nurses in western Europe and Russia, nurses who experienced needlestick injuries suffered depression, crying spells, family tension, relationship difficulties, panic attacks, and an inability to work5.


What’s missing from safety scalpels?

Nurses and assistants—who are responsible for handling a scalpel both before and after its use—have expressed strong opinions of what they need in a safety scalpel. While surgeons’ requirements centered around the instrument’s weight and balance, nurses and techs were particularly concerned with safety and ease of use:

    • Nearly three-quarters of nurses expressed a desire for blade cartridges that are safe to assemble or remove
    • Two-thirds wanted blade cartridges that are easy to assemble or remove6

MediPurpose remains committed to meeting the needs of the entire surgical team, including technicians and nurses. The company’s new Anzen™ safety scalpel was designed with the whole team in mind.

1 Jagger J, Berguer R, Phillips EK,  et al. Increase in Sharps Injuries in Surgical Settings Versus Nonsurgical Settings After Passage of National Needlestick Legislation. J Am Coll Surg; 2010(4):496-502.

2 Massachusetts Department of Public Health Occupational Health Program. Sharps Injuries among Employees of Acute Care Hospitals in Massachusetts, 2002-2007. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 2011;32(6):538-44.

3 International Healthcare Worker Safety Center, University of Virginia. U.S. EPINet Sharps Injury and Blood and Body Fluid Exposure Surveillance Research Group. Sharps Injury Data Report for 2007; 29 hospitals contributing data, 951 total injuries. Report available at

4 Lee JM, Botteman MF, Nicklasson L, et al. Needlestick injury in acute care nurses caring for patients with diabetes mellitus: a retrospective study. Curr Med Res Opin 2005 741-747.

5 Costigliola V, Frid A, Letondeur C, Strauss K (2012) Needlestick injuries in European nurses in diabetes. Diabetes and Metabolism. 38, Suppl 1, S9-S14.

6 Stoker R. Are Safety Scalpels Making the Cut With Surgeons and Nurses? Outpatient Surgery Magazine 2011.