- ATLANTA (Reuters) - US health-care
workers suffer almost 400,000 needle-stick injuries every year that could
expose them to bloodborne viruses, risking infection from diseases including
hepatitis B and C and AIDS, researchers told a conference on infections
in hospitals on Tuesday.
- Based on data from 60 large US hospitals, researchers
concluded that about 384,000 needle-stick or similar injuries occur among
health-care workers in hospitals every year.
- The study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was presented to the International
Conference on Nosocomial and Health-Care-Associated Infections meeting
in Atlanta. ''Nosocomial'' means ``originating in a hospital.''
- The study did not attempt to estimate how many workers
become infected because of their injuries.
- A 1995 study estimated that 600,000 to 800,000 needle-stick
injuries occurred among health-care workers every year. The CDC researchers
said that their new estimate did not include health-care workers outside
the hospital setting.
- ``Although our estimate is smaller than some previously
published estimates,'' the researchers said, ``its magnitude remains a
concern and emphasizes the urgent need to implement prevention strategies.''
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
said last year that most reported needle-stick injuries involved nursing
staff, but laboratory staff, physicians, housekeepers and other health-care
workers were also injured.
- Needle-stick injuries can expose health-care workers
to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and AIDS, NIOSH said.
- NIOSH recommends that health-care workers avoid using
needles when alternatives are available and that they promptly report any
injuries from needles or other sharp objects to ensure that they receive
- A study of 18 Italian hospitals presented at the conference
found that nurses working in general surgery or general medicine were the
most likely to suffer a needle-stick injury. Physicians were the least
likely to be exposed. University of Sao Paulo researchers who studied a
Brazilian hospital in 1998 found that health-care workers often recapped
needles after they were used despite recommendations not to.
- Two-thirds of needles that had been disposed of at the
hospital had been recapped, suggesting that workers were putting themselves
at unnecessary risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
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