36 per cent doctors end up with needle injuries, says study

Injections are labelled unsafe due to improper sterilisation, reuse and faulty administration.

Hyderabad: Injuries due to needles and shrapnels are caused to the medical fraternity and these expose them to the blood-borne infections, Hepatitis B and other pathogens, according to a study carried out in the trauma centre in All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The study found that 36 per cent of doctors, 14.6 per cent of nurses and 7 per cent of housekeeping staff had accidental needle stick injuries.

India accounts for 30 per cent of the 16 billion injections administered worldwide and it has been estimated that 63 per cent are unsafe injections. Injections are labelled unsafe due to improper sterilisation, reuse and faulty administration. These are found to be a major cause of infections in patients and doctors. The needle stick injuries expose healthcare workers to the blood-borne pathogens of which the highest number of cases are those of Hepatitis B and C.

Dr Vishnu Reddy of Yashoda Hospitals noted, “Needle stick injuries are common but a preventable occupational hazard. Given the rising number of infections by such injuries, the focus is now on primary prevention which can eventually reduce the number of blood-borne pathogen infections.”

The incidence of Hepatitis B and C is high due to the reuse of syringes and needles. A senior doctor said, “We have patients who have not got themselves tested for Hepatitis B and C. When such cases are handled infections are easily passed not only to healthcare workers but also other co-patients. The hospital-acquired infections have also got Hepatitis B as one major source and these incidences are being seen in patients. As we do not have a proper reporting system and most of them do not come back, the present data available is only on healthcare workers.”

Needle prick injury is an occupational hazard. World Health Organisation records state that accidental injuries are the cause of 37 per cent new Hepatitis B cases, 39 per cent new Hepatitis C cases and 5.5 per cent new HIV cases. Hospitals have been asked to clinically assess the needle stick injuries and train healthcare workers in the proper administration of injections and their dispose. Care should be taken while handling sharpnels and should opt for safety-engineered devices which will protect healthcare workers.

Injuries occur mainly in emergency units

Thirty-six per cent injuries are found to occur while handling patients in emergency units and shifting them, according to the study. The sites identified for injury are emergency units, laboratories, out-patient rooms, procedure rooms, operating tables and laundry. The national surveillance system of healthcare workers (NASH) have found that 42 per cent of physicians and 30 per cent of nurses suffer from injuries. The objects identified are glass, scalpels, hollow-bone needles, vacuum needle and other solid sharp objects.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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