Sharps Injuries among Australian Healthcare Workers

Sharps Injuries are far too frequent among Australian healthcare workers (HWC)

Accidental sharps injuries (SI) via needles, sutures, etc, all carry a small but real risk of transmitting bloodborne diseases like HepB, HIV, etc., to the injured HCW.

In fact, Tarantola et al state there are 60 infectious diseases that can be transmitted by these injuries.

At the Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) 2016 conference, myself, Nicole Vaust and Jane Parker presented the results of a national survey we conducted among ACIPC members (with ACIPC and Ethics approval)

We asked members 9 questions on their institution’s 2014 occurrence of SI and mucocutaneous exposures (blood splashes to face, etc) – 307 hospitals from 6 states participated, making the survey one of largest in Australia – and we were surprised at the results.

Three out of every hundred HCW reported a sharps injury in 2014 (higher than USA rate); 51% of reported SI were nurses and 37% doctors; and 47% of all SI occurred during surgical procedures.

Extrapolating to Australia nationally, this means over 30,000 HCW sustain an SI annually – 80 per day!

Could it be that Australian HCW are not using safety engineered devices often enough? Or correctly?

What is clear is that this issue needs greater attention at state, perhaps federal legislative level – as it has in most developed countries.

click here for our poster

We will shortly submit our manuscript to the ACIPC Journal of Infection, Disease and Health – so watch this space.

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