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1,000 Hospital Workers Accidentally Stuck By Needles Daily, Nationwide

Above: The new report finds needlestick injuries in American hospitals cost the healthcare system $1 billion a year. Credit: ZaldyImg/Flickr

Aired 8/26/13 on KPBS News.

Nurses, doctors, and other hospital caregivers are at constant risk of needlestick injuries.

— A new report estimates more than half a million healthcare workers are accidentally stuck by hypodermic needles each year nationwide. These needlestick injuries are a major concern in hospitals.

The report from the nonprofit group Safe in Common says there are 1,000 needlestick injuries every day in U.S. hospitals.

Scripps Director of Employee Health Services, Linda Good, said nurses and doctors aren't the only ones at risk.

"I've had housekeepers get needlesticks. I've even had computer technicians, because sometimes sharps can end up where they're not supposed to," Good said.

Accidental punctures can transmit infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B. Good explained that's why hospitals use a number of safety devices.

"For instance, we have needle-less IV fluid and medication administration systems in place," Good said. "We have needles that you can retract by the push of a button, before you even remove it from a patient's arm."

But despite these devices, accidents still happen.

That's why in the Sharp HealthCare system, all needlestick injuries are investigated. Sharp Vice President of Workforce Support Services, Anne Davis, said it's important to know if these incidents could have been prevented.

"Do I think it could ever be a 'never' event? No, I don't. And that's in part because you can't always anticipate how the patient's going to react," Davis said.

The new report finds needlestick injuries in American hospitals cost the healthcare system $1 billion a year.

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