A sharps injury is any form of penetrating wound from a needle, scalpel or other type of sharp object that leads to the exposure of blood or other bodily fluids. Generally, it can include needles, scalpels, razors, blades, lancets, broken glass or any form of sharp implement.
Thousands of cases of sharps injury occur yearly in healthcare facilities. Most can occur by accident while a caring for a patient or when recapping a needle using both hands.
What should I do?
The initial step is not to panic. In most cases of sharps injury, it does not result to the transmission of infections. Just remember though that it is vital to follow up with medical care right away if exposure has occurred.
In case of a needlestick or sharps injury:
- Cleanse the site using water and soap.
- If the injury occurred in the workplace, report to injury.
- Seek medical care right away.
If the individual was splashed with blood or any bodily fluid:
- Cleanse any splashes on cuts, abrasions or damaged skin with water and soap.
- Flush out splashes on the eyes with saline, clean water or sterile eye wash.
Seek medical care for any splashes to the face (nose, eyes, mouth) or on damaged skin (abrasions, cuts, sores, burns, puncture wounds).
Is there a need for immediate treatment?
Certain conditions such as hepatitis B, HIV and hepatitis C can spread via exposure to blood. Due to this, it is vital to take the necessary steps to lower the risk for transmission.
It is important to note that post-exposure prophylaxis involves a drug or other measures to reduce the chances of developing a condition after exposure to an infection.
One can stay safe from sharps injury by avoiding the use of needles unless familiar with what to do with them. Remember that there is always a risk for injury when it is used. Understandably, only use needles if trained to do so and when needed.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on sharps injury is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly manage this type of injury and how to prevent one by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.