Cause of Device-Related Incident
User errors

Clinical Specialty or Hospital Department
Clinical Laboratory; Infection Control

Device Factors
*Not stated

Document Type
Hazard Reports

External Factors
*Not stated

Mechanism of Injury or Death
Exposure to biohazards; Mechanical (puncture, perforate, lacerate, break, cut, tear, nick, crush)

Support System Failures
*Not stated

Tampering and/or Sabotage
*Not stated

User Errors
Incorrect clinical use

Ampules [15-276]

Risk of Injury and Infection from Broken Glass Ampules

Hazard [Health Devices Jan-Feb 1994;23(1-2):56]


A member hospital reported that, in three separate incidents, employees were cut on the fingers when opening glass ampules of clinical laboratory human-based quality control material.


Glass ampules, which can contain different types of solutions, some of which are biohazardous, pose the risk of cuts to the hand and scattering of glass fragments when snapped open at the neck, thus exposing sharp glass on the edges of the lid and base. Also, particulate material can spray when the ampules are opened, creating a biohazard risk.


  1. When opening glass ampules, use a device such as an ampule opener to minimize the risk of injury, especially when the ampules contain biohazardous materials. (Note, however, that these devices may not protect users from glass fragments and/or particulate matter.)
  2. Follow universal precautions when handling biohazardous materials. These precautions include wearing gloves (special puncture-resistant gloves are available to minimize the risk of punctures and/or cuts), facial protection (e.g., shields), gowns or laboratory coats, and plastic aprons, as outlined by the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS).(1) Wrap materials such as gauze and/or paper towels around the ampule to reduce exposure to shattered glass and/or sprayed particulate matter.
  3. Dispose of opened glass ampules in sharps containers. (See our Evaluation "Sharps Disposal Containers" in Health Devices 22[8-9], August-September 1993.)


  1. Document M29-T2, Vol. 11, No. 14, Protection of  Laboratory Workers from Infectious Disease Transmitted by Blood, Body Fluids, and Tissue. 2nd ed., 1991 (tentative guideline). This document can be obtained from NCCLS, 771 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085; (610) 525-2435.


Ampules [15-276]

Cause of Device-Related Incident

User error: Incorrect clinical use

Mechanism of Injury or Death

Exposure to biohazards; Mechanical

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