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Incidence of needlestick injury among healthcare workers in western India.

BACKGROUND OBJECTIVES: Injuries occurring from contaminated sharps are a major occupational health hazard. It carries a risk of transmitting blood-borne diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Healthcare workers (HCWs), including personnel handling biomedical waste, are at risk. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and details of needlestick injury (NSI) among HCWs.

METHODS: We analyzed data of all HCWs who reported NSI over the past three years. Demographic details, type and source of injury, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), immediate post-exposure measures, hepatitis B vaccination status and HCWs and source's HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C serological status were studied.

RESULTS: Fifty-six cases of NSI were recorded over three years, accounting for an incidence of 10.4/100 occupied beds per year. Maximum cases (73.2%) occurred between the 20 and 40 yr age group. The distribution among the work category was doctors (37.5%), nursing staff (26.8%), phlebotomy technicians (12.5%), housekeeping/subordinate staff (12.5%) and others (10.7%). Appropriate PPE was donned by 66 per cent of the HCWs. The majority of cases (46.4%) occurred in wards and operating rooms (23.2%). Phlebotomy (35.7%), followed by procedures, such as hemoglucotest (HGT) measurement, intravenous cannula insertion and operative procedures (33.9%), were the most common situation during which HCWs suffered NSI. While 64.2 per cent HCWs were vaccinated for hepatitis B, only 5.4 per cent of the HCWs completed post-exposure anti-retroviral regimen.

INTERPRETATION CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that a relative lack of awareness towards preventive measures and inexperience among HCWs may be contributory to high occurrence of NSI events. This study emphasizes upon ensuring active hospital-wide hepatitis B vaccination of all HCWs and supportive therapy to improve compliance towards post-exposure prophylaxis.

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