The Importance Of Reporting Accidental Needle Stick Exposure To Blood Borne Pathogens

By Greg Garner

In the United states alone, over 300,000 incidents of percutaneous needle stick accidents were reported with a worldwide total closer to 800,000 incidents. However, occupational needle sticks are extremely under-reported. The reason most people do not report a needle stick accident vary but preliminary studies show that many of those were due to the victim of these accidents being ashamed. Many more were afraid of repercussions from employers.

The Odds Are In Your Favor

If you are the victim of a needle stick accident, it is important to report the incident immediately and follow proper protocol for getting help. Blood borne pathogens are responsible for a number of diseases being spread in the medical and health care profession. However, it is much rarer than people believe or the numbers indicate. The odds of contracting a disease depend on several factors and are usually pretty slim.

Type of Needle


Although contracting a blood borne pathogen disease from a needle stick is rare, it is possible and does happen. It all depends on the circumstances, the disease involved, and the depth and type of needle. You are much more likely to contract a blood borne pathogen from a hollow needle than one that is solid. Hepatitis is much more like to be contracted than HIV. There are several factors involved that must be taken into consideration.

Type of Disease

If you are the victim of a needle stick, after accident treatment is available for HIV and HBV. (Hepatitis B) After needle stick treatment for HVC depends on several factors, including identification is the type of Hepatitis C and the treatments available for chronic disease. In any case, you should seek immediate precautionary treatment for any needle stick. Even the type that does have after stick treatment has a time linit for the effectiveness for that treatment. In many cases, you have but hours to seek treatment and in some cases, only up to one week, depending on the pathogen.

Don’t Be Ashamed

Blood borne pathogen disease transmission rates or the amount of time the disease takes to progress in your body can be dramatically reduced with appropriate after stick antiviral treatment. For this reason, it is vital that you seek attention immediately. There is nothing to be ashamed of in an accidental stick. Employers can take no legal action against anyone who has an accident. The important thing to remember is that you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting your friends and family.

Type of Injury

Factors that are involved in whether you contract a disease from a needle stick vary but are important. If you are involved with a needle stick accident, determine how deep the injury is. The more shallow the injury, the less likely the transference of a blood borne pathogen. Also note whether the needle has visible contamination. Could you physically see the blood on the needle before the stick? If you could not, the odds of transference are much less than if you could. It also makes a big difference whether the needle had been used in a patient’s artery or vein or if it was subcutaneous. Exposure is much greater if the needle actually entered an artery or vein. The last factor to consider is whether the patient who has AIDS dies within two months of the accidental stick.

About the Author: For more information please visit our Bloodborne Pathogen Training website.


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