Expert advice

Sharps injuries: what nurses need to know about the risks

Training is needed to reduce avoidable injuries and minimise infection risks

Training is needed to reduce avoidable injuries and minimise infection risks for nursing staff

A survey of 7,571 RCN members found almost two thirds (63%) of respondents had received at least one sharps injury during their careers. A quarter (25%) of mental health unit staff sustained sharps injuries in the past 12 months, as did 22% of care and nursing home staff and 18% of staff working in patients’ homes.

But even with such a large number of injuries, the survey exposed a lack of understanding among nursing staff about the risks – 82% perceived the disease risk from sharps injuries as low to nil.

This is despite the potential for blood and body-fluid exposure to put healthcare workers at risk of infection.

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