What is a needlestick injury?

  • Needlestick and Sharp Injuries (NSIs) are accidental skin penetrating wounds caused by sharp instruments in a medical setting.
  • A break of skin can be from a needle or other “sharp” such as a scalpel / glass.

Epidemiology of NSI

  • Infections are caused by needlestick injuries
  • An injury from a contaminated needle exposes workers to bloodborne pathogens that can cause serious or fatal infections.
  • The most serious infections are:
    • HIV
    • Hepatitis B
    • Hepatitis C
  • HCW must ensure that he/she should receive proper follow-up medical care after NSI.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 385,000 sharps-related injuries occur annually among health care workers in hospitals
  • WHO reports in the World Health Report 2002, that of the 35 million health-care workers, 2 million experience percutaneous exposure to infectious diseases each year
  • More than half of these injuries are never reported.
  • One should always report injuries to employer immediately.
  • EPInet report of 2009 mentions Percutaneous injury (PI) rate to be 20.2 per 100 occupied beds 
  • A current survey showed despite all prevention efforts, incidence of NSI still remained at 27 NSIs occur, per 100 beds per year.

Where do these injuries occur?


These injuries have been reported from all healthcare settings, including:

  • Ambulatory settings.
  • Physician offices.
  • Nursing homes.
  • Skilled nursing facilities.
  • Home health care.
  • Hospitals.