How Healthcare Workers Can Protect Themselves

There are vaccinations available to protect healthcare workers from contracting Hepatitis B and it is recommended that all employees take advantage of that protection. However, there aren't vaccinations to protect against Hepatitis C or HIV, which are incurable diseases. The best way to avoid contracting these deadly diseases is to avoid needlestick injuries. Anyone coming into contact with needles is at serious risk of getting Hepatitis or HIV. This includes nursing staff, doctors, laboratory workers, housekeeping staff and sanitation workers.

Needlestick injuries most commonly occur when:

  • Needles are recapped
  • Needles are not disposed of properly in a puncture-proof container, or safety box
  • Body fluids are transferred after collection

To reduce your chances of contracting serious diseases:

  1. Avoid administering an injection when there is an equivalent oral medication, which can be even more effective.
  2. Avoid recapping needles and place them in a puncture-proof safety box immediately after usage.
  3. Plan ahead how you are going to safely handle and dispose of needles.
  4. Get a Hepatitis B vaccination.
  5. Remind colleagues about the dangers of not safely handling needles.
  6. Don't overfill safety boxes where used needles are stored. They shouldn't be more than ¾ full.
  7. Don't open or empty the safety box and store it in a safe, dry place until it can be disposed of properly.
  8. Report a needle-stick injury for testing and to be treated.

Learn how healthcare workers can protect patients from needlestick injuries.

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Unsafe Injections in the Developing World and Transmission of Bloodborne Pathegens: A Review.
Simonsen L, Kane A, Lloyd J, Zaffran M, Kane M. Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(10):789-800. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

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The Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Contaminated Injections Given in Health Care Settings
Anja M Hauri, Gregory L Armstrong and Yvan J F Hutin

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