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Understanding how needlestick injuries happen

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

A needlestick injury occurs when a health care worker accidentally punctures their skin with a needle while attending to a patient or doing lab work. 

While these injuries may not sound like much, they can actually be devastating. A dirty needle can leave a health care worker battling severe infections and life-threatening diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

What causes needlestick injuries?

Despite all the advancements in safety protocols inside medical facilities, these injuries continue to pose a significant risk to numerous health care workers, including nurses, doctors, emergency responders and phlebotomists. Some of the factors that contribute to the problem include:

  • Improper handling: Rushed procedures during emergencies, the provider’s fatigue on a long shift and inadequate training can all lead to mistakes while handling needles.
  • Needle recapping: Recapping needs after their use is a nearly automatic practice for many health care providers, but it’s a dangerous action. All it takes is an accidental slip and a torn glove to cause contamination.
  • Disposal issues: Poorly designed or overfilled sharps containers can result in needs protruding from what should be a safe trash receptacle, and that can increase the likelihood of an injury.

Beyond the physical risks, needlestick injuries can have profound psychological and financial implications for healthcare workers. The fear of contracting infectious diseases, the stress of undergoing testing and treatment and the potential stigma associated with such incidents can take a toll on the mental well-being of those affected. Moreover, needlestick injuries may result in lost productivity, medical expenses and even be career-ending. 

If you’re a health care worker injured by a needlestick injury, you have the right to ask for workers’ compensation benefits to help with your medical care and provide you with some replacement income. Legal guidance can make the application process easier.