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What should I do if I get a needle-stick or sharps injury?

Sharps Injury

Those who work in the healthcare industry, individuals visiting a facility or those who have needles and sharps in a home setting are at risk for a needlestick or sharps injury, causing exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. These pathogens can include:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV),

  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV),

  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and

  • Others

(See: OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and Needlestick Safety Prevention Act.)

A needlestick injury can occur when a needle accidentally punctures the skin. The list of sharps includes any item capable of cutting and injuring the skin. This may include:

Hypodermic needles, scalpels, staples or sutures, blood collection devices, lancets, razor blade, scissors, metal wire, retractors, clamps, pins, cutters and glass items.

What should I do if I get a needlestick or sharps injury?

Reduce the risk of serious infection by following these guidelines:

  • Hold the wound under running water, allowing the water to run off and encouraging it to bleed (do not scrub)

  • Use only soap and water to clean the wound

  • Never put the wound in your mouth

  • Allow the wound to dry and cover with gauze or bandages

  • Contact your employer or supervisor immediately

(See: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines for protecting yourself from needlestick injuries.)

The best way to prevent needle-stick and sharps injuries is through education and proper handling of sharps waste. Arizona Medical Waste offers Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant training. Contact Arizona Medical Waste Services, for more information: or 520-231-5100. Arizona Medical Waste has all your professional, medical waste needs.

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