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Needlestick injuries: the role of safety-engineered devices in prevention

23 July 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 14


The first documented mention of a needlestick injury (NSI) in the medical literature appeared in 1906. Despite growth in academic and clinical interest for NSI prevention, a global report identified that approximately 3 million healthcare workers have suffered percutaneous exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Legislation is an important component of NSI prevention. Unfortunately, the impact of legislation may not always reduce the incidence of NSI as much as expected. Safety-engineered device (SED) implementation has demonstrated a substantial reduction in NSI rates compared with non-SEDs. More importantly, passive SEDs are 10 times less likely to be connected with an NSI incident

The first documented mention of a needlestick injury (NSI) in the medical literature was 1906 (Groneberg et al, 2020). However, it was not until after 1975, following recognition that NSI was a transmission method for blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and, latterly, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that an increase in NSI-related publications was noted (Groneberg et al, 2020).

Despite growth in academic and clinical interest for NSI prevention, a 2002 global report identified that approximately 3 million health professionals had experienced percutaneous exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Further analysis from this report determined that 40% of HBV and HCV infection and 2.5% of HIV infection among health professionals could be attributed to work-based sharps injuries (World Health Organization (WHO), 2002). Nationally, an analysis of occupational exposure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland identified 14 health professionals who acquired NSI-related HCV during a 10-year period (Rice et al, 2015).

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