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What does a scalpel injury cost you?

South African hospitals are at risk of paying the expensive ongoing costs of scalpel injuries, without knowing it.

The World Health Organisation estimates that healthcare professionals fall victim to two sharps injuries every year1. The second most common sharps injury is a scalpel injury2, yet hospitals aren’t always aware of the associated risks involved.

What are the immediate (familiar) costs?

Once a healthcare professional injures themselves with a scalpel, blood tests are required to detect if there has been an exposure to a blood-pathogen such as HIV. Should the injury be serious, micro-surgery may also be required.

If the healthcare professional has been exposed to HIV or another blood-borne pathogen, further tests over a period of several years are conducted. 19% of healthcare workers in South Africa are exposed to HIV due to a sharps injury1, so the risk of an exposure is high. The ongoing treatment costs where a healthcare professional contracts HIV are extensive, and there is no cure for the disease.

The cost for lab tests, surgery, and treatments are expensive, yet they are only the tip of the iceberg.

What are the ongoing (hidden) costs?
For the hospital, there are unpredictable costs which come after the initial injury. These can include litigation for preventable injury, workers compensation, and an increase to insurance premiums. A loss of productivity among staff and delays due to caring for the injured healthcare professional are also common.
A worker with a serious scalpel injury is likely to need time off work for rehabilitation. Changing schedules, finding locum or new staff, and training can put a strain on the human resources of an establishment.

For the healthcare professional, there is more to consider than the immediate physical pain of a scalpel injury. Physiological distress or PTSD is common among injured healthcare workers, even when the scalpel injury is not serious3. The event of a scalpel injury can also make staff apprehensive about handling sharps. As a consequence, staff confidence is hindered, and the patient may not receive the best care.

What can hospitals do to prevent the costs?
Preventing scalpel injuries is easy to do, with minimal impact on current practice. Research shows that implementing single-handed scalpel blade removers with a hands-free passing technique can reduce scalpel injuries by 50%4.

The BladeFLASK scalpel blade remover provides hospitals with a quick and simple way to remove scalpel blades, preventing the substantial costs to hospitals and healthcare professionals that scalpel injuries bring.
The BladeFLASK scalpel blade remover has safely removed over 70 million contaminated scalpel blades and has prevented up to 150 000 injuries around the world.

  • Protects healthcare workers from blood borne pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C resulting from scalpel injuries.
  • Simple to use with a quick single-handed ‘push, click, and pull’ action to remove and contain used scalpel blades.
  • With a hands-free passing technique, the BladeFLASK can prevent up to 5 times more injuries than a safety scalpel.
  • Easy-to-use solution provides a low cost alternative to safety scalpels for all scalpel users.

Protecting healthcare professionals from scalpel injuries is not only the hospital’s moral obligation, it’s in their best interests too.


  1. Prüss-Üstün A, Rapiti E, Hutin Y. Sharps injuries: global burden of disease from sharps injuries to health-care workers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2003 (WHO Environmental Burden of Disease Series, No. 3).
  2. Jagger J, Berguer R, Phillips EK, et al. Increase in Sharps Injuries in Surgical Settings Versus Nonsurgical Settings After Passage of National Needlestick Legislation. AORN Journal 2011;93(3):322-30. doi: 10.1016/j.aorn.2011.01.001
  3. Taylor DC, Matson AP, Gibson SD, et al. Ulnar Nerve Transection in an Orthopaedic Surgeon Sustained During Surgery: A Case Report and Commentary. JBJS 2018;100(1):e2. doi: 10.2106/jbjs.17.00226

Fuentes H, Collier J, Sinnott M, et al. “Scalpel safety”: Modeling the effectiveness of different safety devices' ability to reduce scalpel blade injuries. International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 2008;20(1-2)


To get a quote on the BladeFlask scalpel remover, please contact Compass Medical Waste Services on 031 267 9700 or email

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