Sharps Injury Prevention Programs

February 17, 2014 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Because of the environment in which they work, many people who work in aging services settings—including not just nurses and aides but also housekeeping personnel and others—are at risk of accidental needlesticks and injuries from other potentially contaminated sharps (e.g., lancets, razors). As a result, these workers are at risk of bloodborne pathogen infection.

In discussions of sharps injuries, needlestick injuries generally receive the most attention. Nevertheless, dangerous injuries can be caused not just by needles but also by other sharps such as scalpels and razors. Thus, organizations need to take steps to protect workers from injuries caused by these types of devices as well.

Any needle or other sharp that has been used on a resident poses the risk of transmitting bloodborne pathogens to anyone who is subsequently injured by that needle or sharp. Such injuries, especially deep punctures caused by hollow-bore needles contaminated with blood, can result in the transmission of pathogens. While many studies emphasize the risks from bloodborne pathogens such as HBV, hepatitis C virus, and HIV, workers are also at risk of contracting diseases such as malaria, syphilis, and viral hemorrhagic fevers after exposure to used sharps.

The best approach for preventing the transmission of pathogens to workers is through preventing accidental needlesticks and other sharps injuries (NIOSH). Although staff and administrators should already be aware of the risks associated with the use of needles and...

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