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About Half of Nurses in U.K. Have Experienced Needle Stick Injuries, Many Are Concerned About HIV Risk, Study Says

November 21, 2008

A recent report by the United Kingdom's Royal College of Nursing found that 48% of the 5,000 nurses polled had been injured by a needle previously used on a patient during their careers, with about one-third fearing risk of exposure to bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, BBC News reports (BBC News, 11/19). According to the PA/, the survey also found that although most nurses who had experienced a needle injury were provided with information about risks from their employer, 28% were not. In addition, about one-third of nurses within the National Health Service who had experienced an injury regarded the support they received from their employer as adequate (PA/, 11/19). According to BBC News, one-quarter of nurses who said they experienced needle sticks reported that their employer did not provide them with post-exposure prophylaxis. In addition, a poll of nurses in the report revealed that nearly half of the nurses do not have access to safety devices, such as shielded needles, that could protect nurses from infections like HIV and hepatitis, RCN said.

RCN General Secretary Peter Carter said, "It is clear that needle injuries are an everyday threat for nurses" (BBC News, 11/19). Currently, 94% of employers have a policy that covers prevention and reporting of needle stick injuries, but only 55% of the nurses surveyed had received training from their employer on safe needle use. Ninety-six percent of nurses said they use needles as part of their jobs, according to the PA/ Carter said, "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" (PA/, 11/19). An NHS Employers spokesperson said the agency acknowledges the RCN report and takes the "issue of needle stick injuries very seriously" (BBC News, 11/19).

Online The report is available online.

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