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Needlestick injuries could cause psychological problems

May 10, 2013

Needlestick injuries could cause chronic psychological illness, according to the latest research published in the Society of Occupational Medicine's journal Occupational Medicine.

The study found that people who are injured by needles can be more vulnerable to having substantial or psychiatric illness or depression.

These types of problems are common among people who work in the healthcare field like nurses as they have most contact with medical sharps than the majority of people.

Having an impact on family relationships and work attendance was one of the problems that the study suggested could occur after suffering a needlestick injury.

Lead author of the research Professor Ben Green said psychological aspects of injuries from sharps are often not considered: "The main health implication of needlestick incidents is probably psychiatric injury caused by fear and worry."

The professor of postgraduate medical education and psychiatry at Chester University added
: “The chances of physical damage – infection and so on – are what are focused on by society, but these risks are in reality very small."

Three case studies were examined under the investigation, which discovered the psychiatric trauma is comparable to someone who had experienced a significant event like a car crash.

It also found that the amount of psychiatric trauma was associated with the amount of time people were left waiting before results were given to them. One of the case studies was a 36-year-old A&E worker who was pricked by a needle while emptying a bin. It wasn't until six months later that all-clear blood tests were given.

Consultant clinical psychologist Emma Citron said: "It is important that this study has brought this source of psychological distress to the attention of professionals and the public. It raises awareness and could help sufferers to better access the help they need."

New regulations on preventing sharps injuries come into place tomorrow (May 11th) across Britain, which give employers in the healthcare sector stricter guidelines to adhere to in order to comply with European Union directive 2010/32.

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