Needlestick and other sharps injuries are a serious hazard in any health care setting. Contact with contaminated needles, scalpels, broken glass and other sharps may expose health care workers to blood that contains pathogens which pose a potentially lethal risk.
Potential Needlestick Hazards
You are at risk for needlesticks or sharps injuries when you do the following:
- Work quickly
- Handle needles that must be taken apart or manipulated after use
- Dispose of needles attached to tubing
- Manipulate the needle in the client
- Recap a needle
- Use needles or glass equipment to transfer body fluid between containers
- Fail to dispose of used needles in puncture-resistant sharps containers
- Lack proper workstations for procedures using sharps
- Bump into a needle, a sharp or another worker while either person is holding a sharp
Follow these safety precautions when working with needles or other sharp instruments:
- Bring leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps containers with standard labels to clients’ homes.
- Avoid using needles whenever safe and effective alternatives are available.
- Avoid recapping or bending needles that might be contaminated.
- Plan for the safe handling and disposal of needles before use.
- Store sharps containers out of the reach of children, pets and others who don’t need access.
- Secure sharps containers during transport to prevent spilling.
- Participate in your employer’s bloodborne pathogens training program.
- Help your employer evaluate devices with safety features.
- Use devices with safety features provided by your employer.
- Report any needlestick and sharps injuries immediately.
Handling an Injury
If you experience a needlestick or sharps injury or are exposed to the blood or other body fluid of a client 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.
- Flush eyes with clean water, saline or sterile irrigants.
- Report the incident to your supervisor.
- Immediately seek medical treatment.
Be safe and healthy on the job with these helpful tips provided by Barrow Group, LLC.
Follow standard precautions, infection prevention and general hygiene practices consistently to keep yourself and your patients safe from needlestick injuries.