Sharp Harm Minimisation

Ms Michelle Battye1

1St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia


Sharps injuries are one of the most significant occupational hazards among HCWs, in particular nurses. A sharps injury is defined as any work place injury where the Health Care Workers (HCWs) skin has been penetrated by a sharp object such as needles, scalpel blades and stitch cutters. Conscious of the potential blood borne virus transmission and anxiety surrounding sharp related injuries, sharp harm minimisation strategies were initiated by the Infection Prevention Team. Sharp harm minimisation strategies included, incident investigation, collaboration with key stake holders, safety alerts, education and product review and development. St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne (SVPHM) is committed the safety of all HCWs, sharp harm minimisation fits within the think safe, stay safe initiative. SVPHM infection prevention team’s identification of a high sharps injury rate powered a vision for something greater. Prompting the realisation that our people were at risk, striving to achieve a reduction in sharp related injuries by 25% via the sharps harm minimisation strategies .In the past two years sharp related injuries have decreased by 28%; an overall reduction of 35%. Sharp related injuries can be reduced utilising the interventions outlined in the sharps harm minimisation strategies. Future recommendations are to consider a written Infection Prevention protocol surrounding sharp harm minimisation strategies for other facilities to follow.


Michelle Battye, current manager of St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne Infection Prevention Team. Michelle moved into the area of Infection Prevention over 12 years ago with a focus on blood and body fluid exposure injuries (BBFEI’S). With over 500 beds, 53,000 admissions per year and more than 1800 staff across four sites both splash and sharp related injuries were alarmingly high. After successfully completing the HIV and Hepatitis Pre and Post Test Discussion (A short course for infection prevention and control practitioners) the Infection Prevention Team took over the management all BBFEI. With the takeover of BBFEI the Sharp Harm Minimisation project began.

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