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Posted: January 14th, 2021

Preventing Needlestick and Sharps Injuries in Nurses

Preventing Needlestick and Sharps Injuries in Nurses

Needlestick and sharps injuries (NSSIs) are a serious occupational hazard for nurses and other health care workers (HCWs). NSSIs can expose nurses to blood-borne pathogens such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 385,000 NSSIs occur annually among HCWs in hospitals, but it has been estimated that as many as half of injuries go unreported . NSSIs can have physical, psychological, and economic consequences for nurses, such as anxiety, stress, loss of productivity, and medical costs .

The prevention of NSSIs among nurses requires a comprehensive approach that involves organizational, environmental, and individual factors. Some of the strategies to prevent NSSIs include:

– Implementing a sharps injury prevention program that follows the guidelines from the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) . The program should include policies and procedures for safe handling and disposal of sharps, training and education for nurses and other HCWs, monitoring and reporting of NSSIs, and evaluation and feedback of the program’s effectiveness.
– Using safety-engineered devices that have built-in features to prevent or reduce the risk of NSSIs, such as retractable needles, needleless systems, or blunt suture needles. These devices should be selected based on the evidence of their efficacy, availability, affordability, and acceptability by nurses and other HCWs .
– Applying standard precautions for infection control, such as wearing gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection when handling blood or other potentially infectious materials. Nurses should also wash their hands before and after patient contact, avoid recapping or bending needles, dispose of sharps in puncture-resistant containers, and report any exposure incidents immediately .
– Promoting a culture of safety that encourages nurses to report NSSIs without fear of blame or punishment, to seek medical attention and follow-up care if needed, and to participate in the evaluation and improvement of the sharps injury prevention program. Nurses should also be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act .

By following these strategies, nurses can reduce the risk of NSSIs and protect themselves and their patients from the transmission of blood-borne pathogens. NSSIs are preventable injuries that can have serious consequences for nurses’ health and well-being. Therefore, it is essential to implement effective measures to prevent them and to support nurses who experience them.


: Sharps Injury Prevention | American Nurses Association. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Needlestick and Sharp Injuries Among Registered Nurses: A Case–Control Study | Annals of Work Exposures and Health | Oxford Academic. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Workbook for Designing, Implementing and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program | CDC. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Bloodborne Pathogens – Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Moving the Sharps Safety in Healthcare Agenda Forward in the United States: 2020 Consensus Statement and Call to Action from the International Safety Center | International Safety Center. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Emergency Sharps Information | CDC. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Bloodborne Pathogens – Standards | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed January 14, 2024.

: Needlestick Safety & Prevention Act | American Nurses Association. Accessed January 14, 2024.


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