Preventing Needlestick Injuries
A Checklist for Healthcare Workers
The American Nurses Association (ANA) designed a list of guidelines for nurses to follow to minimize the chances of being stuck by an infected needle at work. Here are the practical steps the ANA suggests healthcare professionals should take:
Prior to procedure using sharps:
- Ensure all equipment is available and within arm's reach.
- Ensure lighting is adequate.
- Place a sharps disposal container nearby and know where it is located.
- Assess a patient's capacity for cooperation; request additional help if patient needs to be physically stabilized.
- Instruct patient to avoid sudden movement.
- Do not expose sharps / needles until moment of use and keep pointed away from user.
- Maintain visual contact with sharps during use.
- Remain aware of positioning of other staff to avoid accidental contact.
- Do not pass sharps by hand; place and retrieve from predetermined centralized location/tray.
- Alert other staff when placing or retrieving sharps.
- Activate safety features of sharps and check (visual, auditory) to ensure features are activated and locked in place.
- Ensure all sharps are accounted for and visible.
- Check trays, linens, waste materials prior to handling for sharps accidentally misplaced or left behind.
- Transport reusable sharps in secured closed container.
- For non-reusable sharps, visually inspect disposal container to ensure device will fit.
- Keep fingers away from tip of device when disposing, and avoid placing hands close to the opening of the container.
Protecting Yourself as a Health Care Worker
According to the American Nurses Association, there are rights and protections that need to be utilized by healthcare workers. It is important to:
- KNOW the law (Needlestick and Prevention Act)
- EDUCATE yourself and peers about sharps safety
- REPORT sharps injury incidents
- FOLLOW UP with post-injury treatment recommendations
- SERVE on committees that evaluate and select the safest medical devices
- ADVOCATE strongly for the safest technology available
- CHAMPION a culture of safety and report unsafe conditions
- CONTACT federal OSHA if efforts to work with your employer in complying with standards are unsuccessful; 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)
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