A needlestick injury (NSI), also known as a percutaneous injury, occurs when a needle accidentally punctures the skin. Most commonly happen to occupational hazards involving a health care worker.
Approximately 35.7 million health care workers worldwide are exposed to NSI risk, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) data. Hence, the most worrying consequence of NSI is the transmission of blood-borne pathogens that cause serious or even fatal infections.
As a result, the pathogens found in the blood are as follows:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Besides that, the WHO, the annual global estimated proportion of health care workers exposed to these infections was:
|Occupational Exposure||Risk of Transmission|
|1. Human immunodeficiency virus HIV||0.5%|
|2. Hepatitis B virus, (HBV)||2.6%|
|3. Hepatitis C virus (HCV)||5.95%|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard consists of regulations designed to protect occupationally exposed health care workers. So, the healthcare employers must implement adequate safety measures under the OSHA where there is occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
Who is at risk of needlestick injury?
Generally, a number of studies have shown that nurses are the most likely to suffer needlestick injuries. In addition, workers who come into contact with needles, such as laboratory workers, doctors, and housekeepers, are also at risk.
Types of needles usually cause needlestick injuries?
- Blood collection needles
- Hypodermic needles
- Needles used in intravenous (IV) administration
- Suture needles
How do needlestick injuries occur?
Frankly, injuries may occur at any stage of their use, dismantling, or disposal. Such as:
- Recapping needles
- Not properly disposing of used needles in sharps containers
- Blood collection (for instance, while taking the patient’s blood)
- Incorrect use of safety-engineered sharps
Ways to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries
In the meantime, many people believe that prevention is better than cure. It is clear that preventing injuries is the most effective way to protect workers.
Aside from that, getting a hepatitis B vaccination is also important for preventation. Honestly, HBV vaccine has proved highly effective in preventing infection in workers. However, there are no vaccine exists to prevent HCV or HIV infection.
How to dispose of sharps?
Moreover, to avoid the injuries, used needles should be disposed of promptly in appropriate sharp disposal containers.
Thus, you can use your sharps bin to dispose of medical supplies for instance:
- lancets used with finger-pricking devices
Other than that, please keep the sharps bin in a safe place so it does not pose a risk to other people. Also, out of the sight and reach of children.
If you experience a needlestick or sharps injury or are exposed to the blood or other bodily fluids of a patient while working, suggestions include:
- Firstly, wash the injured area right away after exposure with running water and mild soap.
- Secondly, flush splashes to the nose, mouth, eyes or skin with sterile saline or water.
- Next, immediately report the incident to your respective supervisor or officer in-charge.
- Last, head to the closest emergency hospital as soon as possible.
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About the author
Bachelor of Science (Hons) Pharmacology, is a Customer Relationship Executive of Mayflax, one of the nation’s leading healthcare and marketing companies.