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safety needle, then you have to have it available for use.” Even if your ASC stops using a particular gauge of needle but keeps the needle on site, the surgery center must still have the equivalent safety needle on site, Evans says. Each year ASCs are required to test

and evaluate new safety devices, such as syringes, needles and scalpels, and to document the

processes. “Every

year, you have to check to see whether there are safer alternatives to what you presently use,” Trimas says. “You don’t have to switch what you are using. You just need to do the research.” ASCs may hesitate to switch because

of concerns about higher costs, Dean says. “You might think that the newer op- tions will be more expensive, but that’s not necessarily true. There could be an IV catheter out there that is far superior

to what you converted to 10 years ago and doesn’t cost more money.”

Sharps Containers OSHA inspectors are paying more at- tention to rules concerning sharps con- tainers, says Dean, “They’re supposed to be locked; you’re not supposed to be able to reach in and pull things out. They’re supposed to be secured so no- body can steal the containers. Excep- tions are made for the OR because frequently you will see big round con- tainers that are on the floor on wheels for anesthesia to use, but I have a per- sonal prejudice against that. Just be- cause something is in the OR doesn’t mean it’s safe. Workers are coming through the OR all of the time at night. “ASCs are also supposed to have a sharps container at each patient’s bed-

side or at least between two beds,” Dean continues. “Staff members are supposed to be able to drop the sharps into the con- tainer without walking any distance to a sharps container, and they should use the nearest container rather than carrying a syringe to one farther away.” ASCs must keep a watchful eye on

how full the container is and what goes into it, Dean says. “There’s a line on the container and you should never go past the line,” she says. “When you take down full containers and put them out for the hazardous waste contractor to pick up, OSHA wants a new one going up immediately. OSHA is also looking to see what is in the container. It’s sup- posed to be only sharps. For items like sponges and gloves, there’s a different way of disposing of those—they should never be put in the sharps container.”



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