Epidemiology of needlestick and sharps injuries in a tertiary care center in Saudi Arabia


      Background: Health care workers (HCWs) are frequently exposed to the danger of infectious agents through needlestick and sharps injury (NSSI). In Saudi Arabia, the hepatitis B and C viruses pose a great threat to the HCW because of their high prevalence rate (8%-10% and 2%-6%, respectively). Method: A prospective study on the management of NSSI at King Fahad National Guard Hospital from 1996 to 2000. Data relating to the epidemiology of NSSI were collected with the Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet) data collection tool, 1997. Results: The results were compared with data as reported by EPINet 1998. Consistency was demonstrated between King Fahad National Guard Hospital and EPINet 1998 for the occupational categories, locations, and the devices involved. Three anomalies were noted: (1) housekeeping staff injuries ranked third at our facility and eighth as reported by EPINet 1998; (2) injuries caused by devices discarded inappropriately commonly occurred at this facility but were not reported by EPINet; and (3) injuries due to unsafe practices ranked third at our hospital but ranked seventh in EPINet. To date, only 1 employee in our hospital had a seroconversion to hepatitis C. Conclusion: This surveillance highlighted risky practices and demonstrated employees and locations frequently involved in NSSIs. An education program was designed for all staff at risk of exposure, targeting higher-risk employees. (Am J Infect Control 2002;30:234-41.)
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