What are Sharps Injuries?
Sharps Injuries is an adherent risk for anyone who needs to undergo or has undergone a surgical procedure or an injection for some illness. It is a well known risk in the healthcare sector. Sharps which get contaminated with the patient’s blood can infect anyone with more than 15 types of illnesses to include hepatitis B and C and the most serious of all the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV which as of yet has no cure. This is the reason and a cause of worry for anyone who has a Sharps Injury.
Now coming to question what is actually a Sharps Injury. Sharps is the name given to anything pointed and sharp which is used by physicians to penetrate the skin. It can be a needle, a blade, a scalpel, and other medical instruments that are used by surgeons during the time of surgery. Any injury which may cause a cut or a prick to the skin resulting in blood oozing out caused due to these Sharps or medical instruments are called as Sharps Injury. Percutaneous injury is the medical term used to denote a Sharps Injury.
Dangers of Sharps Injuries
The main danger from a Sharps Injury is the exposure to various bloodborne infections. These infections can be caused as a result of a Sharps Injury caused by a contaminated instrument which contains blood or any body fluid of an infected patient. The most common bloodborne diseases that one can come in contact with as a result of Sharps Injury are:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
How the disease gets transmitted depends on the individual’s own immune system and its effectiveness in warding off infections. There have been a number of cases of Sharps Injury every year but only very few of them lead to something as serious as the illnesses mentioned above.
Even though an individual with a Sharps Injury may not get infected but just the knowledge of having a Sharps Injury is enough to generate a lot of anxiety in the individual about a potential infection and other side effects of the exposure to any potential infection.
It can have a significant impact on the confidence of the individual and may result in considerable reduction in the overall productivity of the individual due to persistent anxiety of contacting a serious infection due to Sharps Injury.
Who is at Risk for Sharps Injuries?
The main people who are at risk for having a Sharps Injury are those workers who work in the healthcare sector. This includes people who handle these instruments post a surgery and have the responsibility of cleaning the instruments and disposing them off. During this process, these people may come in contact with the pointed needle or a blade which may cut or penetrate the skin and cause a Sharps Injury. Sharps that are mostly likely to cause a Sharps Injury are hollow-bore needles. Some of the other instruments or procedures through which an individual can incur a Sharps Injury are while administrating intravascular cannulation, venipuncture, using IV cannulae, and phlebotomy needles.
In summary, one needs to maintain caution when administrating the above mentioned Sharps and ensuring to wear proper protective gearing like a glove so as not to get pricked by a contaminated Sharps and getting Sharps Injury.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Sharps Injuries in Healthcare Settings: https://www.cdc.gov/sharpssafety/index.html
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – Bloodborne Pathogens: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.1030
- World Health Organization (WHO) – Injection Safety: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-patient-safety-day/2020/injection-safety
- American Nurses Association (ANA) – Needlestick and Sharps Injuries: https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/needlestick-and-sharps-injuries/
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – Preventing Needlestick Injuries in Healthcare Settings: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2000-135/
- European Biosafety Network (EBN) – Sharps Injuries: https://www.europeanbiosafetynetwork.eu/sharps-injuries
- Healthcare Infection Society (HIS) – Sharps Injuries and Bloodborne Virus Transmission: https://www.journalofinfectionprevention.com/article/S1757-1774(16)00003-3/fulltext
- The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) – Sharps Injury Reduction: A Randomized Trial of a Sharps Container Surround: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/199617
- Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) – Sharps Injuries: A Continuing Threat to Healthcare Workers: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2019/04/01/Sharps-Injuries-A-Continuing-Threat-to-Healthcare-Workers.aspx