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FDA, NIOSH & OSHA joint safety communication: blunt-tip surgical suture needles reduce needlestick injuries and the risk of subsequent bloodborne pathogen transmission to surgical personnel.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2012 May; :1-4
Purpose: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strongly encourage 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. Blunt-tip suture needles (Figure 1), which are not as sharp as standard (sharp-tip) suture needles, are designed to penetrate muscle and fascia and reduce the risk of needlesticks. Blunttip suture needles are regulated by the FDA and have been marketed in the U.S. for more than 25 years. Needlestick injuries continue to occur in surgical settings when suturing muscle and fascia, despite the availability of safety-engineered devices, such as blunt-tip suture needles, and the endorsement of their use by professional organizations. Needlestick injuries have the potential to expose health care personnel to bloodborne viruses, such as Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Of the estimated 384,000 needlestick injuries occurring in hospitals each year, 23 percent occur in surgical settings.(1) Published literature indicates that while needlestick injury rates have been decreasing among non-surgical health care providers, this has not been the case among those who work in surgical settings. According to a 2010 article published in the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses Journal, more than half of needlestick injuries involving suture needles occur during the suturing of fascia or muscle.(2) Published studies show that using blunt-tip suture needles reduces the risk of needlestick injuries from suture needles by 69 percent.(3) Although blunt-tip suture needles currently cost some 70 cents more than their standard suture needle counterparts, the benefits of reducing the risk of serious and potentially fatal bloodborne infections for health care personnel support their use when clinically appropriate. 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.(4) In addition, personnel who receive needlestick injuries may experience anxiety and a loss of productivity as they await the results of blood tests. 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.
Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel; Physicians; Surgeons; Injury-prevention; Disease-prevention; Needlestick-injuries; Bloodborne-pathogens; Hepatitis; Hospital-equipment; Accident-prevention; Equipment-design; Medical-equipment; Medical-treatment; Operating-rooms; Safety-measures; Safety-education; Disease-control; Disease-transmission; Infection-control
FDA's Division of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance (DSMICA) 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20993
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health