‘Active’ and ‘Passive’ devices is wrong terminology

“Passive vs Active” conjures up “Black and White” – but other colours work well too!

A 7-colour spectrum of terms won’t work but “Active”, “Semiautomatic” and “Automatic” will.

In my recent paper on frequency of use of sharps engineered devices (SED) I deliberated over “passive” and “active” to describe SED mechanisms. Something didn’t gel. The SED in Doris Dicristina’s recent study significantly reduced wingset sharp injuries – but it was neither “passive” nor “active” – because you need push a button.
Then I incredulously learnt of a hospital who were staying with a troublesome active wingset device because “no passive wingsets had been developed” – yet semi-automatic wingset SED proven to reduce SI were available. Then I knew what didn’t gel – our terminology is wrong – it restricts the use of effective technology.

After an hour discussing the issue with a learned colleague we agreed we should be using the three terms proposed by Tosini et al in their large SED study – “Active”, “Semiautomatic” and “Automatic”.

True, they found automatic best, but semiautomatic SED had fourfold less SI than active SED!

We need delete “passive” from our SED vocabulary. More HCW will sustain SI if we keep it.

Your comments are welcome.

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