Last Updated on May 23, 2013


A needlestick injury usually occurs when the skin has been pierced (percutaneous) by a needle or by a sharp object. It commonly occurs as an occupational hazard in those handling needles, either in medical settings or otherwise.

Occupational needlestick injuries are very common in the health care community and there is a great risk of passing on blood borne diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. These injuries happen either when blood is drawn from a patient or while administering drugs through intravenous or intramuscular injection. Injuries may also occur while recapping the needles or if the person handling fails to put aside used needles safely in an assigned container.

Needlestick injuries may also occur during surgery, when a sharp needle can pierce the glove and penetrate the skin of a surgeon or his assistant. Other sharp surgical instruments too can cause similar damage during a surgery. The patient may also be at risk of viral infections if a health personnel who attends to him carries a hepatitis or HIV infection. Despite their hazard potential, needlestick injuries have been neglected and, most of them go unreported.

Needlestick injuries usually cause very little bleeding and there is hardly any other visible trauma too. It is the risk of viral infections that are a major cause of concern.


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