• John Larrimer

Are Health Care Workers At Risk For Needlestick Injuries?

A recent Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHPH) study has suggested reforms to further protect healthcare workers from needlestick injuries. Needlestick injuries, where hypodermic needles puncture the skin, can put workers at risk of acquiring blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis.

The AOHPH survey of 157 hospitals in 32 states showed an injury rate of 2.2 needlestick injuries per 100 workers in 2012. Although regulations are already in place to protect health care workers from needlestick injuries, the AOHPH report suggests a need for further reforms.

Fifteen years ago, Congress passed the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act to protect health care workers. For years, the legislation appeared to be working as needstick injuries were reduced by a third. However, the numbers released by AOHPH show needlestick injuries have increased by 1.89 per 100 workers since 2011.

How Can Workers Be Protected By Needlestick Injuries?

As part of its report, the AOHPH has offered strategies for reducing injuries and protecting health care workers. AOHPH suggests a need for prevention through educating workers, improving communication among staff, immediate investigations of all exposures, and adopting devices that can prevent needlestick injuries. According to AOHPH, these policies have led to a 60 percent reduction in needlestick injuries for hospitals that have adopted them.

Depending on the pathogen, the chances of acquiring an infection can vary. Research from the Ontario Hospital Association estimates a 6 to 30 percent chance of developing hepatitis B after a needlestick injury. For HIV it is a 0.3 percent chance.

Workers injured by needlestick injuries might have options for workers’ compensation. Contacting a workers’ comp attorney can help injured workers explore available options.

Larrimer & Larrimer, LLCColumbus Workers’ Comp Attorneys

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