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Needle sticks remain major danger for health care workers

If you work as a medical provider in a health care setting, getting stuck by a contaminated needle is likely one of your greatest concerns. Many debilitating and even deadly diseases can be transmitted from patient to health care worker via a dirty needle.

Even though HIV and AIDS is not necessarily the death sentence that it once was, the thought of being exposed to the virus can be quite traumatic. Even when AIDS is not a concern, there are many other diseases which can be acquired in this manner.

Protocol after a needle stick

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following steps be taken in the immediate aftermath of a needle stick or injury with another sharp medical object:

  • Using soap and water, cleanse the site thoroughly
  • If the mouth, skin or nose area has been exposed to patient fluids, flush the body parts with water
  • If fluid gets splashed into your eyes, irrigate it with saline or fresh water
  • Immediately report the exposure to your supervisor

More treatment may be necessary

After a workplace exposure, you will need to be tested to establish that any resulting infections or manifestations of disease are linked to this event. Dependent upon the suspected exposure, there may be a postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) that you can use to reduce your risk of developing the patient's disease.

Workplace exposures to viral and bacterial infections may qualify you for workers' compensation benefits. You may need to take some time off of work to recuperate from an illness you develop as a result. You might need to seek counseling for the emotional and psychological consequences of your exposure.

A Boston workers' compensation attorney can offer guidance and support in the wake of a workplace exposure.

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