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Cutting with care.

Even in the hands of the most experienced and skillful surgeon, a scalpel is still a dangerous piece of equipment--a razor sharp steel blade sticking out from a slender and occasionally slippery handle. As careful as the surgeon or OR nurse may be, given the frequency that scalpels are used in surgery, the risk of an injury and possibly infection from a used or dirty blade is quite pervasive.

Currently, scalpel blade injuries are among the top five most common type of sharps injury and second only to needlestick. And, generally, scalpel blade injuries tend to be more severe than injuries from suture needles. Luckily, there are a number of options for surgeons looking to decrease the risk of scalpel injuries in their ORs. From safety-engineered scalpels to safe passing and disposal products, a variety of scalpel safety equipment is readily available from a number of medical device manufacturers.

Sandel Medical Industries LLC (Chatsworth, CA) offers a "Total Sharps Safety System" comprised of a variety of innovative products. Their disposable Weighted Safety Scalpel[TM] has a shield that slides over the knife blade when it is not in use. The simple shield covers the knife blade and has a lockable safety shield button (top or bottom) that confirms activation with an audible click. This design feature provides protection for both nurse and surgeon when passing scalpels during surgery and complies with OSHA regulations as a safety-engineered device. The safety scalpel also has the weight of a reusable scalpel, so as not to compromise the tactile feel and sharpness demanded by surgeons.

For added safety in the handling of scalpels, Sandel offers the Z-Tray[TM] and Stretch-A-Tray[TM] instrument passing trays. These trays permit "hands free" transfer of scalpels and other sharps in the sterile field. The trays feature oval shaped sides and staggered bottoms that provide easy pick up and handling of scalpels. The Stretch-A-Tray also expands from eight to 12 inches in length to hold virtually any size scalpel and longer instruments. Also available is the Disposable Friction Mat[TM], a highly visible orange pad that provides a neutral zone and non-skid surface on which to place sharps.

MYCO Medical (Cary, NC) also offers a number of products to help reduce the risk of injury from scalpels in the surgical arena. The TechnoCut Plus retractable safety scalpel reduces the risk of injury and infection by storing the used or dirty surgical blade locked away in the handle by retracting prior to disposable. The scalpel's easy to use design provides ambidextrous, single handed operation of the top-activated blade retraction slider. Audible clicks indicate blade position in fully extended, retracted and final lock modes. The innovative "final lock" feature permanently locks the blade away in the sheath to prevent re-use. In addition, the scalpel features a non-slip, fibbed handle for improved dexterity and excellent tactile feel. Blade size is easily confirmed by the color-coded slider on top of the scalpel.

For additional scalpel safety, MYCO Medical also markets the Qlicksmart scalpel blade removal system. The Qlicksmart is a safe, convenient and extremely easy to use device. The scalpel handle and blade are inserted into the slot in the front of the device and advanced until the "click" is heard. The handle is then withdrawn and the blade remains sealed inside the leak-proof flask for later disposal. The system works with any manufacturer's flat handles and all manufacturers' standard surgical blades up to size 25, allowing surgeons to use the scalpel handles and blades to which they are accustomed. The flask will hold up to 100 blades.

Personna Medical (Verona, VA), the surgical blade/medical supply division of American Safety Razor Company, has been providing surgeons with surgical blades and scalpels for 75 years. The Personna Plus[R] Surgeon's Blade features the company's MicroCoated[R] cutting edge, which is designed to glide with smooth, clean precision and less tissue drag, providing a smoother cut.

The Personna Plus blades are available on Personna Plus Disposable Scalpels, on Personna Safety Scalpels and on the Personna Plus Safety Scalpel system. The Personna Plus Safety Scalpel system offers reusable metal handles with the same weight and feel as traditional scalpels, but with a disposable blade cartridge.

The Bard-Parker[TM] Protected Blade Systems from BD (Franklin Lakes, NJ) feature durable, reusable metal handles and protected surgical blades. These safety scalpels help to minimize the risk of surgical blade injury before and after use without compromising standard technique. Specifically designed with the weight and feel that clinicians prefer, the scalpels provide convenient and easy one-handed activation of the protective shield.

The scalpel system offers a unique, clear locking shield with a top activation button for easy left- or right-handed activation. The button's audible click and tactile sensation confirm that the lock is in place. The blade remains covered during both assembly and disposal to help prevent accidental contact with the blade.

The Bard-Parker Protected Blade System is now available with size 20 thru 23 protected surgical blades in a compatible size-four safety handle. The company also offers the same safety shield design in a full line of disposable scalpels, all of which comply with OSHA standards and federal regulations.

For Information On The Companies In This Article

BD, 1 Becton Drive, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417., 201-847-6800

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MYCO Medical, 158 Towerview Court, Cary, NC 27513., 800-454-6926

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Personna Medical, One Razor Blade Lane, Verona, VA 24482., 540-248-8000

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Sandel Medical Industries LLC, 19736 Dearborn St., Chatsworth, CA 91311., 866-764-3327

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by Rich Ritsma, Editor-In-Chief
COPYRIGHT 2007 Advantage Business Media
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Safety Innovations: Scalpel Safety Products
Author:Ritsma, Rich
Publication:Surgical Products
Date:May 1, 2007
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