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Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations

Chapter 20

Injury and Violence Prevention
Lead Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Note: Unless otherwise noted, data are from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Healthy People 2000 Review, 1998-99.

20-10. Reduce occupational needlestick injuries among health care workers.

420,000 annual needle-stick exposures.

Baseline: 600,000 occupational needle-stick exposures to blood among health care workers in 1996.

Target setting method: 30 percent improvement. (Better than the best will be used when data are available.)

Data sources: National Surveillance System for Health Care Workers, CDC, NCID, NCHSTP, NIP, NIOSH.

Needlestick injuries are a serious concern for the approximately 7 million health care workers in the United States, because they pose the greatest risk of occupational transmission of bloodborne viruses, for example, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick injuries occur annually, mostly among nursing staff; however, laboratory staff, physicians, housekeepers, and other health care workers also are injured. As of June 1999, a cumulative total of 55 documented cases and 136 possible cases of occupational transmission of HIV have occurred among health care workers. In 1995, an estimated 800 health care workers became infected with the hepatitis B virus. The number of health care workers who have acquired the hepatitis C virus from an occupational exposure is unknown; however, approximately 2 to 4 percent of the 36,000 acute HCV infections in 1996 were thought to be in health care workers after an occupational exposure. Also, the emotional impact of a needlestick can be severe and long lasting, even when a serious disease is not transmitted.

Many of these exposures are preventable with currently available technology. Two studies that evaluated safety devices, ongoing surveillance of occupational injuries, and consultation with experts in occupational safety and injury prevention indicate that at least a 30 percent reduction can be achieved with new technologies and changes in technique. The use of engineering controls is an important priority in sharps injury prevention efforts. However, implementation of devices with safety features is only one component of a comprehensive program to achieve significant declines in sharps injuries. Such an approach includes modification of hazardous work practices, administrative changes to address needle hazards in the environment, safety education and awareness, and feedback on safety improvements.

Read Overview of Occupational Safety

Read Overview of Injuries

Back to HP 2010 Injury Objectives Page

Last modified: 15-Mar-2000.