Needlestick Injuries in Your Practice



Needlestick related injuries which expose workers to bloodborne pathogens continue to be a significant hazard in health care. Most needlestick injuries result from unsafe needle devices rather than carelessness by health care workers.  With that being said, it is important for employers to protect their employees from the risk of bloodborne pathogens by ensuring the proper controls are in place.



Needlestick injuries account for up to 80% of accidental exposure to blood by health care workers.



Why do they keep happening?



Things to consider when evaluating why these injuries occur in your office:


  • Do needlestick injuries occur with a certain needle?

  • Do the needles have a safety device on them?

  • Does a different needle with a safety device need to be purchased?

  • Does this seem to occur with the same employee each time?

  • Is the employee attempting to recap the needles?

  • Does the employee need to be trained on how to properly use the safer sharp device?



If you notice a pattern occurring, then changes may need to be made at your practice.



How to prevent needlestick injuries



OSHA requires employers to have in place engineering and work practice controls in place to minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens for workers. 



Examples of engineering and work place controls include:


  • Proper sharps disposal containers that are closable, puncture resistant, leak proof, accessible, maintained upright, and not overfilled

  • Needles with safety devices

  • Prohibiting bending, recapping, or removing contaminated needles from sharps disposal containers

  • Discarding contaminated sharps immediately after use

  • PPE supplied to eliminate or minimize employee exposure

  • Prohibiting carrying needles to a sharps container outside of the area used in

  • Completion of annual sharps analyses with the consideration and implementation of available and effective safer medical devices

  • Compliance with Universal Precautions (treating all blood & OPIM as infectious)

  • Proper employee training

  • Offering the Hepatitis B vaccination to all employees with occupational exposure




Are needlestick injuries common in your practice?  Or more common than you would like to admit?  If needlestick injuries tend to be common at your practice, some investigation needs to be done to protect your employees.





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