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Needlestick Injuries are Preventable

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Promptly disposing of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers is one way you can help prevent needlestick injuries.

Healthcare personnel who use or may be exposed to needles are at increased risk of needlestick injury. Needlestick injuries can lead to serious or fatal infections with bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or HIV. Learn more about how to protect yourself and your coworkers from needlestick injuries.

Any worker who may come in contact with needles is at risk, including nursing staff, lab workers, doctors, and housekeepers. Whenever a needle or other sharp device is exposed, injuries can occur. Certain work practices may increase the risk of needlestick injury. Studies have shown that needlestick injuries are often associated with:

  • Not using safety-engineered sharps or using them incorrectly
  • Recapping needles
  • Transferring a body fluid between containers
  • Failing to dispose of used needles properly in puncture-resistant sharps containers

Prevent needlestick injuries

Needlestick injuries can be avoided by eliminating the unnecessary use of needles, using devices with safety features, and promoting education and safe work practices for handling needles and related systems.

As a healthcare professional, you can protect yourself from a needlestick injury by:

  • Avoiding the use of needles where safe and effective alternatives are available
  • Helping your employer select and evaluate devices with safety features that reduce the risk of needlestick injury
  • Using devices with safety features provided by your employer
  • Avoiding recapping needles
  • Planning for safe handling and disposal of needles before using them
  • Promptly disposing of used needles in conveniently placed and appropriate sharps disposal containers
  • Reporting all needlestick and sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate follow-up care
  • Telling your employer about any needlestick hazards you observe and promptly reporting any needlesticks and near-misses
  • Participating in training related to infection prevention
  • Getting a hepatitis B vaccination

What to do if you experience a needlestick injury

If you experienced a needlestick injury or were exposed to the blood or other body fluid of a patient during the course of your work, immediately follow these steps:

  • Wash needlesticks and cuts with soap and water
  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water
  • Irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile irrigants
  • Report the incident to your supervisor
  • Immediately seek medical treatment