Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000-135, 2000 Aug; :1-4
Needlestick injuries can expose workers to a number of bloodborne pathogens that can cause serious or fatal infections. The pathogens that pose the most serious health risks are: hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) -- the virus that causes AIDS. HBV vaccination is recommended for all health care workers (unless they are immune because of previous exposure). HBV vaccine has proved highly effective in preventing infection in workers exposed to HBV. However, no vaccine exists to prevent HCV or HIV infection. Any worker who may come in contact with needles is at risk, including nursing staff, lab workers, doctors, and housekeepers. Estimates indicate that 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick injures occur each year. Unfortunately, about half of these injuries are not reported. Always report needlestick injuries to your employer to ensure that you receive appropriate followup care. The type of needles usually associated with needlestick injuries? include: hypodermic needles, blood collection needles, suture needles, needles used in IV delivery systems. Past studies have shown that needlestick injuries are often associated with these activities: recapping needles, transferring a body fluid between containers, and failing to dispose of used needles properly in puncture-resistant sharps containers. To protect yourself from needlestick injuries: avoid the use of needles where safe and effective alternatives are available; help your employer select and evaluate devices with safety features that reduce the risk of needlestick injury; use devices with safety features provided by your employer; avoid recapping needles; plan for safe handling and disposal of needles before using them; promptly dispose of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers; report all needlestick and sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate followup care; tell your employer about any needlestick hazards you observe; participate in training related to infection prevention; and, get a hepatitis B vaccination.