Needlestick Injuries: Treatment and Prevention Tips
What Do I Do If I Prick Myself With a Needle?
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. The chances of contracting a bloodborne pathogen from a needle are very low.
Here’s what you need to do after a needlestick injury:
- Encourage bleeding at the site of the puncture by running cool water over the area for a few minutes.
- Wash the wound with soap and warm water to eliminate viruses and bacteria.
- Don’t scrub the wound or suck on the wound.
- Dry and cover the wound.
- Go to the hospital.
What are Needlestick Treatment and Injury Assessments?
Needlestick Injury Assessment:
Your healthcare professional at the hospital will assess your risks and ask about your injury. They will want to know when, where, and how it happened. They will also want to know about the condition of the needle — where you poked with a used or unused needle? Did it break the skin? Was there blood on the needle?
Samples of your blood may be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV to rule out any risk to your health from bloodborne pathogens.
You may not require any further treatment if your medical professional thinks you have a low risk for infection.
If you are at risk or there is a potential that you’re at risk, you may need:
- Antibiotic treatment for treatment from a skin infection like cellulitis.
- Vaccinations against hepatitis B
- Treatment to prevent HIV
In these circumstances, you may also want to consider treatment for emotional and mental distress.
You may have a workplace occupational health service to provide support and discuss required sick time. Healthcare professionals can also suggest counseling for stress caused by the event.
Why Needlestick Injuries are so Serious:
Needlestick injuries are serious because they pose an unknown potential for risk.
Injuries from sharps can also lead to these risks. Sharps include needles, scalpels, razor blades, scissors, lancets or anything that can cut the skin.
Diseases that can be transferred by needles or sharps include:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Along with dozens of other bloodborne pathogens.
The Ontario Hospital Association estimates there’s between 6 and 30% chance of infection following a workplace injury from a needle contaminated with hepatitis B.
How to Prevent Needlestick Injuries in the Workplace?
There are steps that can be taken within the workplace to eliminate or reduce the potential for needlestick injuries.
If you’re an employer, you can do the following:
- Install sharps containers high-use areas, like bathrooms, to encourage safe disposal of needles or razor blades.
- Avoid the use of needles when there are other safe alternatives.
- Train employees to safely use and dispose of needles and sharps.
- Promote workplace safety awareness
- Establish procedures to report needlestick or sharps injuries
- Modify work practices that have an increased risk of needlestick injuries
- Provide personal protective equipment designed to resist needlestick punctures
If you are an employee, you can do the following
- Avoid recapping needles.
- Plan for safe handling and disposing of needles before starting a procedure.
- Report needlestick or sharps injuries, regardless of severity.
- Inform your employers of sharps hazards in the workplace.
- Remember that you have the right to refuse unsafe work.
- Wear personal protective equipment that is designed to resist needlestick punctures. Specifically needle-resistant gloves.
What Industries are Most At Risk for Needlestick Injuries?
Workers who run the highest risk for needlestick punctures or other injuries are:
- Health care professionals.
- Police officers.
- Waste management professionals.
There are some gloves that can mitigate the risks for needlesticks for certain professionals. For example, professionals working in waste management looking for puncture-resistant gloves have found our Dexterity® hi-viz needlestick-resistant glove lined with Punkban™ to be very effective.
It has the highest resistance to sharps of any of our gloves and has good longevity. This glove won’t suffice for medical professionals or police officer because they need a high level of dexterity.
Needlestick Gloves for Medical Professionals
Medical professionals need good tactile feel to be effective at their job. That means that gloves lined with Punkban™ will not work.
However, studies show that double-gloving, or wearing two disposable gloves on each hand, can reduce exposure to patient blood by up to 87 percent.
Puncture-Resistant Gloves for Police:
Finding the best puncture-resistant gloves for police can also be difficult because so much dexterity is needed during pat downs. In these situations, a glove like our Clutch Gear® Hi-Viz Mechanics Glove Fully Lined with Punkban™ do the trick.
They are our most dexterous gloves designed to prevent needlesticks.
Want To Know How Gloves Are Rated for Puncture Resistance?