Needlestick Injuries at Work
Those who work in a healthcare environment face the risk of an accidental needlestick. A needle puncturing the skin could inadvertently cause the injection of strong medication, but the greatest risk is that even very small amounts of body fluids transmitted by a needlestick could infect the worker with a serious illness such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or even HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.
Due to the risks associated with needlestick injuries, employers must follow strict guidelines concerning handling of needles and other sharp instruments and training of employees who work with these materials.
Needlestick Statistics and Concerns
Hepatitis C: This is a serious virus that can be transmitted via a needlestick. No current Hepatitis C vaccine exists, and it can be a devastating lifelong illness primarily affecting liver function. Risk of infection from a needlestick is approximately 1.8%.
Hepatitis B: Although a vaccine for Hepatitis B exists, it can still be transmitted during a needlestick. Risk estimates for healthcare workers vary from 1 to 40%, with most studies stating the risk is about 30%. This disease can either be acute and include vomiting, jaundice, and occasionally death, or can be a chronic inflammation of the liver, associated with an increased risk for liver cancer.
HIV: There is relatively little risk of getting HIV or AIDS from a needlestick, since common protocol includes starting anti-retroviral medication immediately. Still, with a risk of 0.3%, it is important to consider. HIV and AIDS are usually a chronic disease that can be treated with intensive medication, but never cured.
Other pathogens have been transmitted during needlesticks, including syphilis, malaria, and tuberculosis.
If you suffered a needlestick on the job and contracted an illness, it may be appropriate to seek workers’ compensation benefits. For assistance with your claim, contact the Raleigh workplace injury lawyers of Scudder Seguin, PLLC, at 919-851-3311 today to discuss your options with a qualified and caring attorney.