When Facing Tough Times

Nurses face heightened risks of needlestick injuries

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Nurses play an important role in health care, providing daily care and patient support. However, this role comes with inherent risks, including the risk of needlestick injuries. These injuries occur when a nurse accidentally punctures his or her skin with a needle, raising exposure risks to infectious diseases carried by the patient’s blood.

Needlestick injuries pose serious health risks and can have long-term consequences for nurses, both physically and emotionally.

Factors contributing to risks

Several factors contribute to the heightened risk of needlestick injuries among nurses. Busy work environments, high patient volumes and time pressures can increase the likelihood of accidents occurring. Inadequate training or improper handling of needles and sharps can further elevate the risk. Nursing tasks, such as administering injections, drawing blood and inserting intravenous lines, also exposes nurses to potential needlestick injuries.

Health hazards

Needlestick injuries pose notable health risks to nurses, as they can lead to the transmission of infectious diseases. Bloodborne pathogens such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can undergo transmission through contaminated needles. In addition to the physical health implications, needlestick injuries can also affect nurses’ mental and emotional well-being. The fear of contracting a serious illness can cause anxiety and emotional distress.

Prevention strategies

Health care facilities must prioritize safety measures to mitigate the risk of needlestick injuries. They also have to provide adequate training to nurses. Utilizing safety-engineered devices, such as retractable needles and sharps disposal containers, can help reduce the likelihood of accidents. Implementing standardized procedures for handling and disposing of needles can, too.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that the use of safer medical devices can prevent between 62% and 88% of sharps injuries. By promoting safety, health care organizations can reduce the incidence of needlestick injuries and safeguard the well-being of their nurses.