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"The goal of this quality improvement project was to identify root causes of sharps injuries for RNs at a large urban hospital system" Stallard et al (2023).

Decreasing sharps injuries through root cause analysis


Background: Despite safety mandates and interventions, sharps injuries remain an occupational risk for registered nurses (RNs). Sharps and needlestick injuries increase the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Post-exposure direct and indirect costs of these percutaneous injuries have been estimated at about US$700 per incident. The goal of this quality improvement project was to identify root causes of sharps injuries for RNs at a large urban hospital system.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation of sharps injuries sustained by RNs, identification epsication of themes or root causes, and the development of a fishbone diagram to sort the causes into categories to identify workable solutions were conducted. Fisher’s exact tests were performed to identify association between variables and root causes.

Findings: A total of 47 sharps injuries were reported from January 2020 through June 2020. Among sharps injuries sustained by nurses, 68.1% were among nurses 19 to 25 years of age and 57.4% reported job tenure of 1 to 2 years. There was a statistically significant association between root causes and tenure range, gender, and procedure type (p < .05) with moderate effect size (Cramer's V = 0.35-0.60). Technique also was a primary cause of sharps injuries for blood draw (77%), discontinuing line (75%), injection (46%), intravenous (IV) start (100%), and suturing (50%).

Conclusions/applications to practice: Technique and patient behavior were primary root causes of sharps injuries in this study. More sharps injuries caused by technique occurred among nurses with job tenure of 1 to 10 years, female, blood draw, discontinuing line, injection, IV start, and suturing procedures. The root cause analysis identified tenure, technique, and behavior as potential root causes of sharps injuries specifically occurring most during blood draw and injections at a large urban hospital system. These findings will inform nurses, especially new nurses in the proper use of safety devices and behaviors to prevent injury.


Stallard C, Heaton K, Montgomery AP, Trimble R, Hammond S. Identifying and Decreasing Sharps Injuries Through Root Cause Analysis in a Large Urban Hospital System. Workplace Health Saf. 2023 Apr 19:21650799231156564. doi: 10.1177/21650799231156564. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37073969.