Objective: To assess the prevalence of needlestick injuries (NSIs) and other high risk exposures among healthcare workers at two hospitals in Jamaica.
Methods: Employing a cross-sectional study design, medical personnel (physicians, nurses) at two hospitals in Jamaica, were studied, utilizing a structured questionnaire consisting of 14 items to collect data on needle stick injuries and other injuries.
Results: There were 67 needlestick injuries in 47 persons. Of those sustaining an injury, 52% of physicians and 40% of nurses had NSIs. Re-capping needles accounted for 21% of injuries, various minor procedures, 21%, injury during surgery, 19.4% and taking blood, 12%. In those sustaining NSIs, 47% were reported and 26% of reported cases received counselling.
Appropriate blood tests were performed on 34% and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV was administered to 30%. Hollow bore needles caused 47.8% of injuries, 25.4% occurred with suture needles and 19.4% with intravenous branulas. Other occupational exposure was reported by 31%, including blood on hands and other body parts 39%, blood to face and eyes, 18%, splashed with liquor, 18%, splashed with bloody fluid, 11% and contact with vomitus and urine in eye, 4%.
Conclusion: Needlestick injuries and other high risk exposures were high; incident reporting and post exposure management were inadequate. A comprehensive programme to address factors that contribute to the occurrence of NSIs and other occupational exposures is urgently needed.