Tips for avoiding needlestick injuries

January 23, 2015

Needlestick injuries can be devastating for anyone that suffers them, but for a healthcare worker it can have a detrimental impact on their career as well as their lifestyle. However, there are simple tips that each member of staff can take onboard to try and minimise the dangers they are exposed to each day.

It would be impossible to run modern hospitals without having medical sharps, but there are various ways that people can make them safer and less likely that they will suffer an injury. Leading experts and campaigners believe that a mixture of training, safety-engineered devices and vigilance can make needlestick injuries a "never event".

So what simple advice and tips can employees take onboard to ensure they conduct themselves in a safe and appropriate manner around needle and other medical sharps.

Preparation is key
Education and training are key for reducing the number of healthcare workers suffering needlestick injuries especially when there are safety-engineered devices on the market. With these available, it's important that the preparation is taken by employers to ensure that these safety devices are in place wherever appropriate. 

From an employee's perspective, it's vital that they feel prepared to use these devices and confident as this will reduce the likelihood of mistakes and errors being made. If they are unsure, healthcare workers should have the confidence to ask for further training to make sure they are as prepared as possible.

Do not rush
When performing a procedure, such as an injection, it can be all too easy to feel rushed and try and get it done with as quickly as possible so that you can get on with the other tasks you have to do. However, this is a recipe for disaster and needlestick injuries are more likely to occur if a member of staff feels under pressure in terms of time. It is much safer and better to take your time throughout the procedure as it will keep the patient, healthcare worker and those around them as safe as possible.

Be well rested
There is growing research that strongly suggests fatigue is related to needlestick injuries. For employees this means that getting enough sleep before a shift, and taking regular breaks throughout your working day is vital. It may be difficult to find the time to do this but it is in the best interest of the healthcare worker and their patients that the staff member is well rested. This will ensure that concentration levels remain high and the nurse or doctor does not become distracted.

Identify and improve
If there are areas where a healthcare worker is struggling or is unsure in, it can lead to mistakes being made and the danger of suffering a needlestick injury substantially increases. Members of staff should have the self-awareness necessary to improve their own procedures, whether this is making themselves more efficient or just better and safer at the task.

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