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Senior Staff Training to Assess Needlestick Injuries

February 21, 2008 3:00 PM

Trained senior nurses will soon be available throughout NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to risk assess colleagues who suffer a needlestick injury.

The training by Scotland’s biggest health board covers senior ward nurses, those working in accident and emergency, practice nurses, and other community staff.

And for the first time it will include sexual exposures to bloodborne viruses such as hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Around 100 staff have received their training so far, and another aim of the scheme is to encourage more reporting of needlestick injuries.

The training will also standardise procedures throughout the health board area following taking on our Clyde responsibilities by updating and bringing together existing guidance from both boards.

It will allow senior staff to carry out an assessment of the colleague who has been injured to gauge the personal health risk.

Harriet O’Donnell, Health Protection Nurse Specialist, said:  “It is important that the risk assessment is carried out by designated trained staff who are available at all times and can  provide the immediate specialist advice, information and support required.”

Between October 2006 and September 2007, a total of 605 needlestick injuries were reported within Scotland’s biggest board, which buys around 2,123,027 needles annually.

Following any incident tests will be carried out, by occupational health, or if they happen out of hours, accident and emergency departments are informed prior to the patient arriving for treatment.

Once patients receive their test results, discussions will take place about any follow-up treatment.

Injuries can be caused by accidental contact with needles or sharp objects which themselves have been in contact with blood or high-risk body fluids, or a human bite that breaks the skin.

This can involve being splashed with blood or high-risk body fluid on skin which is broken, abraded, chapped, or has dermatitis or open sores.

Contamination can also affect the eyes, nose or mouth with blood or these fluids

If there is cause for concern the member of staff will be offered vaccination or booster for hepatitis B, and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.

Counselling from staff at the various Sandyford Initiative hubs and the Brownlee Centre at Gartnavel General Hospital, will also be offered, to allay any anxieties the person will naturally have.

Gwyneth MacDonald, Senior Sexual Health Adviser, Sandyford Initiative, said:

“We want to raise peoples’ awareness of needlestick injuries and through that reduce incidents of this kind.”

Notes to Editors:

The average risk of HIV infection after a needlestick or cut exposure to HIV-infected blood is approximately 0.3 per cent, ie one in 300.

The risk after exposure of non-intact skin to HIV-infected blood is estimated to be less than 0.1 per cent.

The average risk of infection after a needlestick or cut exposure to hepatitis C infected blood is approximately 1.8 per cent.

Ends
Health care workers who have received the hepatitis B vaccine and have developed immunity to the virus are at an extremely low risk of infection.

For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.

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