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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 170866941 - Employee Injured When Impaled By Scalpel During Surgery

Accident: 170866941 -- Report ID: 0950621 -- Event Date: 08/10/1999
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
12580025008/25/19998062Mercy Healthcare Sacramento Dba Methodist Hospital
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on August 10, 1999, Employee #1, a surgical technician at Methodist Hospital Outpatient Surgery, was assisting in arthroscopic shoulder surgery on a patient. A scalpel that was on an elevated towel covering arthroscopic tubing on an instrument stand slipped off and impaled the ulnar artery in his left wrist/forearm. Employee #1 backed away from operating table, removed the scalpel, de-gowned, and, seeing that he had a serious wound, covered it with a dressing. He soon began to show symptoms of compartmental syndrome, including numbness, cold, and extreme swelling. His supervisor directed him to go to the hospital emergency room across the street. Employee #1 was hospitalized for seven days, and needed four operations on his arm in first six days. The scalpel was non-engineered sharp and had just been used by the surgeon to make an additional incision on the patient's shoulder. The only lighting in the operating room was an arthroscopic TV monitor and the task light on the rear/secondary instrument tray. Employee #1 had not returned to work as of August 31, 1999, but was due to start rehabilitation therapy. The employer was cited for two regulatory violations and for two serious accident-related violations. Employee #1 had assisted in three shoulder surgeries per week for several months without sustaining any previous injuries.
Keywords: knife, impaled, work rules, forearm, slip, laceration, lighting, struck by, falling object, housekeeping
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 125800250 Hospitalized injury Cut/Laceration Health technologists and technicians, n.e.c.

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