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Avoid needlestick injuries

September 10, 2013

Most needlestick injuries among pharmacists occur during peak flu vaccination months.1

1 de Perio, Marie A., “Needlestick Injuries among Employees at a Nationwide Retail Pharmacy Chain, 2000–2011,” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Vol. 33, No. 11, November 2012, pp. 1156-1158

Needlestick injuries are often associated with these activities:

  • Recapping needles
  • Failing to dispose of used needles properly in a puncture-resistant sharps container
  • Trying to do several things at the same time, especially when disassembling or disposing of needles.

 Difficult patient care situations and working in reduced lighting can also contribute to the potential for a needle stick injury.

Reduce your risk by:

  • Not recapping or resheathing needles
  • Keeping handling of sharps to a minimum
  • Placing sharps containers at eye level and within arms’ reach
  • Disposing of sharps immediately after use in designated sharps containers
  • Sealing and discarding sharps containers when they are three-quarters full
  • Establishing means for the safe handling and disposal of sharps devices before the beginning of a procedure
  • Ensuring your sharps handling policies and procedures are up to date and reviewed regularly by all affected staff

Review your setting’s environment, workflow, policies and procedures and make adjustments as needed to mitigate as many of these risks as possible.

In case of injury

To be prepared in the event of a needlestick injury, see the Alberta Post-Exposure Management and Prophylaxis Guidelines from Alberta Health.