Needle stick injury protocol for health care workers

How can I work in my institution to prevent needlestick injuries?” someone asked herself this question five years ago after learning that a needlestick injury had infected her with the human immuno- deficiency virus (HIV). She has since launched the National Campaign for Healthcare Worker Safety, in order to educate hospital staff and facilities on needlestick injuries, and to urge hospitals to implement safer devices.Like this, you may be among the thousands of health care workers who annually receive a needlestick contaminated with HIV. According to the a recent report, more than one million needlestick injuries to health care workers occur every year.


The first Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard specifically written to protect health care workers was the 1991 Blood borne Pathogen Standard. Although tremendous progress has been made as a result, more than 1,000 infections caused by 20 pathogens are estimated to be transmitted through sharps or needlestick injuries annually. The greatest threat are hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV)-not HIV, as many believe. In fact, one in six contaminations stems from HBV, one in 20 from HCV, and one in 300 from HIV.Health care workers (HCWs) suffer between 600,000 and one million injuries from conventional needles and sharps annually. More than 20 other infections can be transmitted through needlesticks, including: tuberculosis, syphilis, malaria and herpes.

At least 1,000 HCWs are estimated to contract serious infections annually from needlestick and sharps injuries. Registered nurses working at the bedside sustain an overwhelming majority of these exposures. Needlestick injuries are preventable, over 80% of needlestick injuries could be prevented with the use of safer needle devices.

Prevention is the key

According to the CDC, up to 86% of needlestick injuries can be prevented by using safer needlestick devices. Placing sharps containers within reach and at eye level at every patient bedside also reduces the risk of injury.

Will Universal Precautions protect me?

Universal Precautions is a method of infection control by which all human blood and body fluids are treated as if known to by infectious for blood borne diseases. They should be used where there is a potential source for contact with blood or other infected material.Universal Precautions recommend that gloves, aprons or face shields be used for all potential exposure to blood and body fluids. It is important to be aware that the personal protective equipment (PPE) is only effective as a barrier to prevent skin, mouth, nose or eye transmission of blood borne diseases. PPE will not protect workers from sharps injuries. In fact, there are currently no gloves available that provide protection against needlestick injuries.



Protect yourself from needle stick injury

What kinds of needles usually cause needlestick injuries?

  • Hypodermic needles
  • Blood collection needles
  • Suture needles
  • Needles used in IV delivery systems

Do certain work practices increase the risk of needlestick injury?

Yes. Past studies have shown that needlestick injuries are often associated with these activities:

  • Recapping needles
  • Transferring a body fluid between containers
  • Failing to dispose of used needles properly in puncture-resistant sharps containers

How can I protect others and myself from needlestick injuries?

  • Avoid the use of needles where safe and effective alternatives are available.
  • Select, evaluate and use devices with safety features that reduce the risk of needlestick injury.
  • Avoid recapping needles.
  • Plan for safe handling and disposal of needles before using them.
  • Never dispose of sharps in the regular trash
  • Never leave needles unattended on workbench.
  • Promptly dispose of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers.
  • Report all needlestick and sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate follow-up care.
  • Participate in training related to infection

timingIf you are stuck by a needle, immediately report to employee health services at your facility for evaluation, counseling, and treatment if appropriate. Timing is critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) postexposure prophylaxis guidelines call for treatment with antiviral medications “within a few hours” following the needlestick.

CONTACT No.: 6039 (Virology lab Extn.)

6047 (Dr. Ekta Gupta)