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Sharps Injuries & Other Blood Exposures

Sharps Injuries in Home Health Care

Many home healthcare nurses have experienced sharps injuries. The results showed two important points:

  1. nurses in home care experience sharps injuries at a rate similar to nurses in hospitals and
  2. employment status seems to matter - part-time home care nurses had higher sharp injury rates than full-time home care nurses.

When annual sharps injury rates are expressed as the number of injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (which corrects for the numbers of hours worked), the rates for home healthcare nurses were in the same range as those reported in hospitals:

  1. home healthcare nurses reported 5.1 SI/100 FTE and
  2. home healthcare aides reported 1.0 SI/100 FTE.

The sharps injury rate (corrected for the number of hours worked) was highest for per-diem nurses, somewhat lower for part-timers, and lowest for full-time nurses.


Type of Sharp Device

The SHARRP survey asked nurses about the circumstances of their most recent sharps injury. We focused our analysis on the 2001–2007 period, following the passage of the federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2000. In the majority of cases (65%), the sharp device (e.g., syringe or lancet) had no integral safety feature.


Medical Procedures Resulting in Sharps Injuries

For nurses, sharps injuries happened most often during or after the following medical procedures:

  • medication injection
  • fingerstick/heelstick (lancet use)
  • phlebotomy venipuncture
  • IV line or device accessing/deaccessing

Most sharps injuries occurred after the sharp device had already served its intended purpose (e.g., at the point of disposal or when it had been set aside by a patient for later reuse or disposal).


Blood and Body Fluid Exposures among Home Care Aides

Among aides, blood and body fluid exposures occurred more often than sharps injuries. The frequent blood and body fluid exposure risk factors included assisting patients with toileting needs, bathing patients, turning patients, and helping patients get in and out of bed.

Information source for this page: Quinn, M., et al. 2009. “Sharps Injuries and Other Blood and Body Fluid Exposures among Home Healthcare Nurses and Aides.” American Journal of Public Health 99(S3): S710–S717. >