Ampoule Safety

It might surprise you to learn that ampoule injuries are by far the most common source of sharps injury in the healthcare setting. Reports state that 26-42% of sharps injuries are due to opening an ampoule or broken ampoules. For Anaesthesia personal 54% of all sharps injuries are caused by broken ampoules. One in three nurses will sustain at least one sharps injury from an ampoule in his/her career.

On the surface ampoule injuries are not nearly as important as sharps injuries from hollow-bore needles or used scalpels. However on deeper examination their significance has been understated. For example:

Ampoule cuts can increase the risk of infection by breaking the integrity of the skin that may later be exposed to infected blood.
Ampoule cuts can cause severe injuries in their own right. A good example of this is the case of a Queensland Anaesthetist who severed a flexor tendon while opening a glass ampoule. This sharps injury required a general anaesthetic and microsurgery to repair the tendon. It was followed by 6 weeks of intensive rehabilitation. All this repairs the physical injury, but the psychological sequelae, including lack of self confidence, lasts much longer. Just watch a nurse using part of her uniform or gauze square when opening an ampoule.
From a “Culture of Safety” perspective, we need to understand why this injury is so readily accepted as part of the job – by both staff and management. This will help us better understand why staff still remove used scalpel blades with their fingers, recap used needles and take blood from patients without first putting on gloves. Such understanding is crucial to developing an effective Staff Safety Culture.




Physical Safety
Ethical Safety
Global Change