Attorney Esequiel Solorio is a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law as certified by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Needlestick injury infection risks for health care workers

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Workplace Injuries

Needlestick injuries pose a notable risk to the health and safety of health care workers. These injuries expose them to the potential transmission of infectious diseases. They occur when a sharp object, such as a needle or scalpel, punctures the skin, allowing pathogens to enter the bloodstream.

Despite advancements in safety protocols and equipment, needlestick injuries remain a prevalent problem in the medical field.

Understanding the risks of needlestick injuries

A main concern associated with needlestick injuries is the transmission of infectious diseases. The transmission of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV is possible through these injuries. Bloodborne pathogens present in the blood or bodily fluids can make their way into health care workers’ bodies through needlestick injuries. When this occurs, it puts them at risk of contracting these serious illnesses. The risk of transmission varies depending on the type of pathogen. It also varies based on the severity of the injury and the promptness of post-exposure prophylaxis.

Preventing needlestick injuries

Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, between 62% and 88% of sharps injuries are preventable. Preventing needlestick injuries requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses education, training and the implementation of safety measures. Health care workers must receive training on proper needle-handling techniques. Education about safe disposal procedures is also necessary. They also need to use protective equipment, such as gloves and safety syringes. Employers play a key role in providing a safe work environment by ensuring the availability of safety-engineered devices and promoting a culture of safety.

Prioritizing prevention strategies and raising awareness of the risks associated with needlestick injuries helps protect the health and safety of health care workers while minimizing the potential transmission of infectious diseases in the workplace.