NEEDLE STICK INJURIES

In recent years, health care institutions and device manufacturers have undertaken initiatives to combat the risk of infection from needle stick injuries. These include revisions in policies and procedures pertaining to the handling and safe disposal of sharps, changes to the standards of sharps containers, and the strategic placement of sharps containers throughout most healthcare institutions. However, despite these preventative measures, needle stick injuries continue to occur at an alarming rate. The HNI (hypodermic needle incinerator) range addresses the primary cause of needle stick injury by destroying the needle directly after use. This reduces the risk of injury to the healthcare worker, housekeeping staff and medical waste disposal staff.

NO NEEDLE - NO NEEDLESTICK

An article from The Sunday Tribune in Dublin on 3 August 1997 stated the compensation claims brought by hospital workers injured by used needles are now being settled out of court at a rate of one a fortnight. The article further states the average amount of money being awarded is between £3 500.00 and £5 000.00, even though a small fraction of claimant actually develop an illness. Claims center around the stress, trauma, and lifestyle changes endured during the current 6 month waiting period for test results to indicate the presence of disease.

One US study estimates that 225 000 HIV-positive patients were hospitalized in 1990 alone. Only one-third of them were aware of their status.
(Jansen, RS, et al, HIC infection among patients in the US acute care hospital. NEJM. 327:445-452,1992.)

Needle Stick Injuries are a common injury among healthcare workers, and are among clinically proven transmitters of the following infectious diseases:

  • HIV

  • Blastomycosis

  • Brucellosis

  • Cryptococcosis

  • Diphtheria

  • Ebola Fever

  • Gonorrhea

  • Herpes

  • Leptopsirosis

  • Malaria

  • Malignancy

  • Mycobacterial Infections

  • Scrub Typhus

  • Sporotrichosis

  • Staphylococcus Aureus

  • Streptococcosis Pyrogenes

  • Syphilis

  • Toxoplasmosis

  • Tuberculosis

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Estimated 800 000 needlestick injuries occur annually in the United States (2).

  • 78% of the reported 210 needlestick injuries in 1 year at St. Lukes Hospital (Chicago) occurred in the nursing staff. The UK survey showed needlestick injuries to surgeons and assisting staff occurred in 5-6% of injuries (4).

  • In Amsterdam, needlestick injury was reported for every 5 surgeries (4).

  • 0.00004ml (0.4 microlitres) of blood can transfer HBV (4).

  • One in every 200 HIV seroconversions occurred from needlestick injuries involving HIV infected patients (4).

  • One in five HBV seroconversions occurred from needlestick injuries involving HBV infected patients (4).

  • There are 22 known blood-borne pathogens that can be transmitted by needlestick injuries (4).

  • 25-80% of medical students, residents/interns suffer a needlestick injury in the first 6 months of rotation (5).

  • 8% of all employees at Royal Hospital for Sick Children (London) suffered a needlestick injury during a 1 year period (5).

  • In the US, the cost of follow-up-testing, initial treatment with immunization and immunoglobulins following a needlestick injury is estimated to be US$600 - $1000. This does not include the cost associated with lost time, litigation, and/or treatment of any infection resulting from the injury (6).

  • In the US there are 18 000 HBV occupational seroconversions reported annually (6).

  • 1 in 6 of all reported incidents in the UK hospitals are needlestick injuries. The housekeeping staff of a San Francisco hospital are more likely to die from HIV through needlestick injury than a fireman or policeman is likely to die in the line of duty (8).

  • In a 1988 study, needlestick injuries were the major source of exposure to HIV contaminated body fluids to the 863 healthcare workers reported in the study (9).

  • Compensation claims brought by hospital workers in Ireland who accidentally jab themselves with dirty needles are now being settled out of court at a rate of one a fortnight. With average amounts from £3 500 to £5 000 (10).

  • Stress, trauma and lifestyle changes endured during the long wait for the recipient of test results are cited as reasons for suing (10).

  • The majority of claims are made by hospital contract cleaning staff who come into contact with needles not properly disposed of by doctors and nurses (10).

1. Collins, CH, Kennedy, DA, (Microbiological hazards of occupational needlestick injuries. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 62:385-402, 1987
2. Laufer and Charello, Bureau of Health Economics, 17/46/53374
3. D'Arco & Hargreaves - Nursing Clinics of North America VOl.30 No. 1 March 1995
4. A Code of practice for the safe handling of sharps - BMA Publication 1992
5. Lancet Vol. 340 Sept 12 1997
6. A.P.I.C. Prevention of Device-Medicated Bllod-Borne Infection to healthcare workers 17/52/45516
7. NHS Survey - National Audit Office, Oct 1996
8. Mangione, Berbeding and Cummins - Occupational exposure to HIC among Housestaff. American Journal of medicine 1991 - 90-58.90
9. Wormser , GP, et al, Frequency of Nosocomial Transmission of HIV infection among healthcare workers (letter) NEJM. 319.307-308. 1988
10. "Hospital 'neelde-stick' claims at one a fortnight". The Sunday Tribune. 3 Aug 1997.


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