Celebrating Two Years of Zero Sharps Injuries in the ASC Pre-OP and PACU Departments


ascpacu1The efficiency and utilization of Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States’ (KPMAS’) five Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) heavily rely on well-orchestrated care from the Pre-op and Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) staff who work in a fast paced, highly specialized, and high-pressure environment.

Even with all the demands imposed on the Pre-op and PACU staff, these incredible team members have managed to tackle an issue that has proven difficult for the rest of our region: the prevention of sharps injuries. That’s why we are excited to announce that for two years in a row, the ASC Pre-op and PACU departments have reported zero sharps injuries.

In 2016, nearly 23,000 Kaiser Permanente members received surgical interventions in one of our five ASCs staffed by 77 registered nurses and clinical assistants. At the very least, each patient had a peripheral intravenous catheter initiated, while others had injections and blood drawn, as well. Despite the significant potential for sharps injuries with these procedures, zero sharps injuries were reported.

The ASC Pre-op and PACU staff attribute their success to simple, but attainable, goals:

  • Using safety-engineered devices and promptly activating the safety features immediately after use
  • Focusing on the task at hand and avoiding being distracted
  • Being accountable for the sharps used and living by the mantra, “If you used it, you dispose of it.”
  • Supporting one another to perfect their skills
  • Anticipating challenges and asking for assistance from colleagues
  • Taking steps to protect one another by
    • Verbal cueing when passing or moving sharps
    • Ensuring that the sharp object being used is always pointed away from the user
  • Disposing of sharps immediately after use
  • Observing safe practices, such as not recapping needles

It ONLY takes simple, but deliberate, steps to protect one another from sharps injuries. While CELEBRATING the success of the incredible Pre-op and PACU staff, let us take a moment and recommit ourselves to an injury-free work environment for the entire KPMAS region.


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