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Clinical, economic, and humanistic burden of needlestick injuries in healthcare workers

Authors Cooke CE, Stephens JM

Received 2 May 2017

Accepted for publication 7 July 2017

Published 29 September 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 225—235

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/MDER.S140846

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Catherine E Cooke,1 Jennifer M Stephens2

1Department of Pharmacy Practice & Science, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, MD, 2Pharmerit International, Bethesda, MD, USA


Introduction: Needlestick injuries (NSIs) from a contaminated needle put healthcare workers (HCWs) at risk of becoming infected with a blood-borne virus and suffering serious short- and long-term medical consequences. Hypodermic injections using disposable syringes and needles are the most frequent cause of NSIs.
Objective: To perform a systematic literature review on NSI and active safety-engineered devices for hypodermic injection.
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and COCHRANE databases were searched for studies that evaluated the clinical, economic, or humanistic outcomes of NSI or active safety-engineered devices.
Results: NSIs have been reported by 14.9%–69.4% of HCWs with the wide range due to differences in countries, settings, and methodologies used to determine rates. Exposure to contaminated sharps is responsible for 37%–39% of the worldwide cases of hepatitis B and C infections in HCWs. HCWs may experience serious emotional effects and mental health disorders after a NSI, resulting in work loss and post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2015 International US$ (IntUS$), the average cost of a NSI was IntUS$747 (range IntUS$199–1,691). Hypodermic injections, the most frequent cause of NSI, are responsible for 32%–36% of NSIs. The use of safety devices that cover the needle-tip after hypodermic injection lowers the risk of NSI per HCW by 43.4%–100% compared to conventional devices. The economic value of converting to safety injective devices shows net savings, favorable budget impact, and overall cost-effectiveness.
Conclusion: The clinical, economic, and humanistic burden is substantial for HCWs who experience a NSI. Safety-engineered devices for hypodermic injection demonstrate value by reducing NSI risk, and the associated direct and indirect costs, psychological stress on HCWs, and occupational blood-borne viral infection risk.

Keywords: injections, occupational injuries, blood-borne pathogens, healthcare personnel safety, safety-engineered devices

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