Handling Needlestick Injuries: A Guide for Healthcare Workers

Needlestick injuries are an occupational hazard for nurses and other healthcare workers. These injuries can lead to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV infections. They also increase the risk of contracting other diseases such as tetanus, tuberculosis, anaplasmosis, endocarditis, and wound botulism. A needlestick injury occurs when a sharp object such as a needle pierces your skin and breaks through into another person's body tissue during medical treatment or procedure. Other types of sharps include lancets and scalpels that cut into your skin during surgery or biopsy procedures; broken glass vials or flasks can also cause these injuries.

What are needlestick injuries?

Needlestick injuries are a risk of working in healthcare. They can be caused by a needle being accidentally dropped or stabbed by a needle. Needlesticks can transmit bloodborne diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis (TB).

Needlestick injuries can cause infections and abscesses in the skin or muscle tissue around the wound site. They may also lead to septicemia (infection of the bloodstream) if left untreated.

Needlestick injuries are very common: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 5% and 7% of all reported occupational accidents involve needlesticks; however this number does not include those who do not report their injuries or who experience them outside of work hours.[1] Some studies estimate that there are anywhere from 50 million - 300 million needlesticks annually worldwide.[2][3]

How can you avoid needlestick injuries?

  • Use sharps containers.
  • Never recap needles.
  • Always use a new needle for each patient.
  • Never share needles or other sharp objects with anyone else, even if you think you know them well enough to trust them not to stick themselves with your used equipment.

Don't put your own health at risk by being careless about how you handle sharps containers when disposing of them; always be sure that other people don't come into contact with the contents of these containers until they've been properly disposed of in accordance with regulations and state laws regarding biohazardous waste disposal (and also consider whether it might be best not to take any chances at all).

What should you do if you sustain a needlestick injury?

If you sustain a needlestick injury, you should:

  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Clean the wound and apply pressure to it using sterile gauze or cloth. If possible, remove the needle from your skin before cleaning it with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Do not touch this or any other part of your body without wearing gloves (or other personal protective equipment) until after you've washed your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 15 minutes!
  • If there is any bleeding from around the site of injury or if there are red streaks extending from that area to another part of your body (such as down into your arm), go directly back into your office/clinic/hospital room so that someone can check on things more closely before applying more pressure to stop bleeding outside where others might see them later on when they're walking around unsupervised outside their offices after hours looking like they've been injured while doing something else entirely unrelated altogether unrelated yet again...

What should you do if someone else has sustained a needlestick injury?

If you are the healthcare worker who has been injured, follow these steps:

  • Call your healthcare center's occupational health department or emergency department if the injury is serious.
  • Get the patient to a hospital emergency department as soon as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect the wound thoroughly with soap and water before treating it with an antiseptic agent such as iodine or povidone-iodine solution (Betadine). If there is any chance that blood may be contaminated with other body fluids (e.g., saliva), consider giving an antiretroviral drug such as Tenofovir/Emtricitabine/Efavirenz (Truvada) within 72 hours after exposure to prevent HIV infection from occurring through this route of transmission

Needlestick injuries are an occupational hazard for nurses and other healthcare workers, but there are ways to minimize the risk.

Needlestick injuries are an occupational hazard for nurses and other healthcare workers, but there are ways to minimize the risk.

​Needlestick injuries can be serious. A needlestick injury is a sharp puncture or cut that occurs when you accidentally stick yourself with a needle or other sharp object while performing your job duties as a nurse or other healthcare worker. This type of injury can cause infections like hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, tetanus, staphylococcal sepsis (blood poisoning), tuberculosis (TB), and flu virus infections such as influenza A - H1N1.

  • Needlesticks are a hazard for nurses who work directly with patients in hospitals or clinics where sharps--syringes filled with medication--are used regularly for giving injections or withdrawing blood samples from patients; however these injuries can often be avoided with proper safety precautions such as wearing protective gear like gloves when working around these materials which helps reduce risks associated with accidental punctures caused by mishandling them during routine procedures performed daily throughout various departments within an institution's facilities such as Emergency Rooms (ERs), Intensive Care Units (ICUs) Operating Rooms etcetera where there may be an increased likelihood of exposure due to high volume workloads requiring more frequent use during peak hours leading up toward busy seasons such as winter flu season where demand increases exponentially while supply remains relatively unchanged resulting in longer wait times due increased demand without additional staffing resources available


Needlestick injuries are a serious occupational hazard for nurses and other healthcare workers, but they can be avoided with proper training and equipment. If you've been injured by a needle, it's important that you seek medical attention immediately. If someone else has sustained an injury like this, make sure they get checked out right away too!


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