Steps to Minimising NSI When Preparing Medication

November 28, 2014

Although healthcare workers are at risk of occupational hazards throughout their working day, there are times during their day that they are at a greater risk than others. Administering medication is a process where nurses and other workers can be exposed to a high risk of suffering a needlestick or medical sharp injury.

While completing the various infection control practices necessary for administering medication through an intravenous needle or an injection, there are a number of things that can happen that can put both patient and healthcare worker at risk of experiencing a percutaneous injury.

This is especially apparent if the patient is worried or concerned about the procedure, meaning they can flinch or make a sudden movement that can cause an injury. It's also possible that during this time, when conversation is being made, that the staff member can lose concentration and expose themselves to a bloodborne pathogen. Even a split second loss of concentration can be long enough to cause an injury and have a life-changing impact on the worker.

However, there are several measures that healthcare workers can take to reduce their risk of suffering a needlestick injury when giving a patient medication.

Be prepared
Before the needle is exposed, it's important that the member of staff does everything within their power to ensure the procedure is going to be as safe as possible for the patient and themselves. This includes a great number of infection control practices, to make sure that there is the lowest risk possible of bloodborne pathogens being transmitted. However, it's also important to ensure that you have all the instruments needed for the procedure and the equipment you need to safely dispose of the needle are within your reach.

This will reduce the amount of movement the member of staff has to do with an exposed and dangerous needle. This therefore reduces the risk of either the patient, relatives or healthcare workers being injured during the procedure.

Talk to the patient
By talking to the patient before healthcare workers expose the needle, it's possible to find out how they feel about needles and whether there is any need for further support. It is important to maintain this conversation throughout the injection as it makes it less likely that they will suddenly flinch or try and move away from the needle, which endangers everyone in the vicinity.

Most people will move a little when the needle enters their skin, and healthcare workers should be prepared to compensate for this. If the patient is nervous, it may be best to ask them to look away so they can't be scared by the procedure.

Don't lose concentration
For staff giving medication using needles, it's important that there is no lapse in concentration until the instrument is safely disposed. This can be difficult if there are a number of people to see and give medication to but it is imperative that each healthcare worker remains focused on the job they need to do.

This will ensure that all the necessary safety practices are carried out to minimise the risk of injury as much as possible.

Related Clinician and Patient Safety: