Needle Stick Injuries Essay

1449 words - 6 pages

I was walking in the park two days ago and I felt something while cleaning up after my dog. I found a hypodermic needle. I don't know how old the needle was it could have been under the snow for the whole winter. The needle was definitely out there for at least a couple of days, it was broken and bent. The E.R. doctor prescribed combivir as a human Immunodeficiency Virus prophylactic. The side effects are miserable, I felt like I had the flu. Anonymous

An estimated nine million people in the United States use more than three billion needles. These needles and syringes are used by diabetics, hemophiliacs, infertility patients and allergy sufferers to manage medical conditions at home. Some sharps users throw used needles in the trash or flush then down the toilet. This population of self-injecting individuals continues to grow each year. The majority of these needles are being disposed of in household trash. Used sharps left loose among other waste can hurt sanitation workers during collection rounds, at sorting and recycling facilities and at landfills. But it is not only sanitation management workers that are at risk. Improperly discarded needles and other sharps put a variety of other individuals at risk including policemen and firemen, ambulance personnel, janitorial and custodial workers, laundry and dry-cleaning facilities, hotels, park and recreation employees. The number of needle- sticks in the waste industry is very difficult to track. Waste companies are required by law to report injuries in Occupational Safety and Health Administration 300 logs, but due to the nature of this business, many workers may not even be aware they have been stuck. Waste workers are lifting, tossing and hauling several bags at once. They may receive punctures, abrasions or pokes daily. Many of these needles are so fine; the worker may not feel the puncture through the household trash bag, therefore never reporting the stick. In the United States, more than 500,000 needle-stick injuries related to residential needle disposal are reported every year.
A needle stick injury in the community setting, usually arises from the accidental puncturing of the skin by a syringe needle left in places such as in parks, playgrounds, laneways or public toilets. Sometimes, when people are walking in these public areas they accidentally step on a needle left there by somebody else. When a person suffers a needle stick injury, there is usually some anxiety and distress. This is a natural response when thoughts of potential blood borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C occur. However, the risk of catching a serious infection as a result of an accidental needle stick injury is very low. This is because these viruses do not survive for long outside of the body. Most community needle stick injuries involve needles that have been discarded for some time.
The most commonly transmissible diseases of concern is the human...

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