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What are sharps injuries?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Nursing is one of the most difficult jobs in New Jersey. While you’re helping people, being a nurse is also a risky career position. One of those risks involves sharps injuries.

What is a sharps injury?

A sharps injury is a type of injury that involves getting pricked by a needle or other sharp tool. It’s a common hazard for nurses and other medical professionals who have to handle hypodermic needles, scalpels and other medical tools on a daily basis. However, this is a type of injury that often leads to workers’ compensation claims being filed. Unfortunately, many of these injuries are serious but go unreported.

When a nurse suffers a sharps injury, it can increase their risk of infection with diseases like HIV or hepatitis B or C, which can have serious consequences. Knowing how to limit exposure to potential infections and how to prevent these injuries is important.

What to do if you experience a sharps injury

A sharps injury can be terrifying. However, if you’re injured, you should immediately report the incident and potential exposure to disease to your supervisor. Doing so can not only increase the likelihood that your workers’ comp claim will be approved, but it can also allow you to get treatment immediately.

Another important step to take after suffering this type of workplace injury is to determine the origin of the potential exposure. It means performing blood work on patients, but those patients must give consent for that. You can also take post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP to reduce the potential transmission of HIV.

How to prevent sharps injuries

To prevent sharps injuries, you can do the following:

  • Wear personal protective equipment or PPE such as gloves, goggles, mask and face shield
  • Use needles only once
  • Dispose of needles properly in only the approved disposal containers
  • Avoid leaving sharps out in the open
  • Pass sharps using mechanical devices instead of by hand
  • Clearly communicate with colleagues when passing sharps
  • Keep sharps in clear view at all times and be aware of others around you

Precaution is the key to staying safe at work.