The Golden Rules of Safety

Today we published the “Top 10 Golden Rules of Safety,” which we see as an important part of an ongoing mission to eliminate needlestick and sharps injuries in the healthcare setting. Working together with healthcare leaders, we created this set of guidelines for everyone to use to fight injuries and adopt prevention techniques.

Despite decades of ongoing work to eliminate needlestick and sharps injuries, there continues to be a lack of safer techniques and advanced safety-engineered devices for healthcare worker and patient safety needs. But with the current groundswell of support and unification across the healthcare industry, we should expect more to protect us and our patients before, during and after the use of a sharp.

I believe that this process starts with these Top 10 Golden Rules – a list predicated on making injuries a “never event” and dictates some important considerations for any healthcare worker in any setting using or purchasing sharps:

• The design and activation of the safety mechanism is automatic and will not interfere with normal operating procedures and processes
• The device is intuitive and requires no additional steps for use than equivalent standard/conventional device
• The contaminated, non-sterile sharp will be rendered safe prior to removal or exposure to the environment
• Activation of the safety mechanism does not require the healthcare worker to undertake any additional steps during normal process/protocols providing patient care
• Activation of the safety mechanism will not create additional occupational hazards (such as aerosolization, splatter, exposure to OPIM, etc.)
• Activation of the safety mechanism does not cause additional discomfort or harm to the patient
• The device will be ergonomically designed for comfort, allowing for automatic one-handed use during all stages of patient procedure
• The safer engineering control is available in sizes and iterations appropriate for all areas of use relevant to the patient care needs
• Disposal of safety device will not increase waste disposal volumes but should incorporate designs to reduce waste
• The used safety device will provide convenient disposal and mitigate any risk of reuse or re-exposure of the non-sterile sharp

The “Top 10 Golden Rules” were first discussed during Safe in Common’s third online conference “The Unfinished Agenda: When Will Healthcare Worker Sharps Injuries Become a Never Event?” when Barbara DeBaun, RN, MSN, CIC and Improvement Advisor for Cynosure HealthCare environments, summarized their importance:

“For the first time, the most experienced healthcare leaders have joined together to outline what it takes to keep all healthcare personnel safe and free of injury,” she said. “With these rules, we’re getting the industry thinking about where we are and where we need to go to make safety a priority and injuries a never event.”

Safe in Common is making a difference, and your feedback on the Top 10 Golden Rules is critical! If you would like to be part of the ongoing dialogue about how these rules can keep us all safe, engage us on Twitter or e-mail us at

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