Needle sticks are very common in the health care field. Unfortunately, nurses are the majority of people who get stuck by needles in the hospital setting. The ANA (American Nurse Association) has been working to decrease this problem by encouraging hospitals to switch to needle less devices.
However, some items in a hospital setting can not be changed to a needle less devices. For instance, subcutaneous injections for insulin or intramuscular injections for vaccines require a needle for administration. Granted, that most of these devices have safeties that protect the nurse from a needle stick, but sometimes these safeties are not used correctly and of course that occasional accident happens.
Nurses can get stuck not only from using safety devices incorrectly but from other nurse’s careless mistakes. I have heard horror stories of nurses cleaning out a patients bed and getting stuck with a dirty needle or disposing a needle in the sharps box and getting poked by a dirty needle because the sharps container was too full.
So even if you are very careful with needles when using them you have to always be on the look out of your surroundings because other people are careless.
Needle sticks are scary! If you have ever experienced one, you know it is the worst feeling in the world, especially if you know that your patient already has a contagious blood borne disease such as HIV or hepatitis.
So what do you do if you are stuck by a needle?
Even if you don’t know if the needle is dirty or clean you need to follow these steps:
1.) Stop what you are doing immediately! If you can’t get someone else to cover for you. Remember you have to take care of yourself first!
2.) Clean the affected areas with soap and water immediately.
3.) Follow your hospitals or work setting protocol for needle stick injury. This usually includes: calling your house supervisor, team member health, or nurse manager, completing the proper paperwork for an employee injury, submitting a urine drug test, informing the patient’s doctor so the proper blood work can be ordered, getting the patient’s consent for HIV testing, and having your blood drawn for preliminary results. Blood tests include: HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, ALT function (liver function).
4.) If the patient has a positive result for HIV or hepatitis. You might be started on prophylaxis drugs and will be required to get repeated blood draws to check for HIV and Hepatitis because this disease will not show up for months if you have contracted them.