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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Guidelines urged on needle threat


19 November, 2008  

Nurses are at risk of potentially lethal diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C after figures showed that half have been injured by needles used on patients.

A survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also found that 90% of nurses bled after their last needle injury.

The RCN’s study of almost 5,000 nurses revealed that 48% had been injured by a needle that had previously been used on a patient, and a third (34%) feared they might contract a disease.

While most nurses received information from their employer on the risks of blood-borne diseases, more than one in four (28%) did not.

The findings, published in the RCN’s Needlestick Injury in 2008 report, showed that only a third of nurses working within the NHS who had suffered an injury regarded the support offered by their employer as adequate.

The RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: “It is clear that needle injuries are an everyday threat for nurses up and down the country.

“With potentially lethal consequences, being stuck by a needle can be a very traumatic experience, yet too many employers in the NHS fail to provide the necessary support to nurses.

“Government and employers in the NHS need to start taking this issue seriously by introducing needle policies and investing in safer alternatives to traditional needles so that these accidents don’t happen in the first place.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

RCN