10,000 needlesticks each year in home care

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Intravenous news: eScienceNews.com report “Patients continue to enter home healthcare ”sicker and quicker,” often with complex health problems that may require extensive nursing care. This increases the risk of needlestick injuries in home healthcare nurses. While very few studies have focused on the risks of home healthcare, it is the fastest growing healthcare sector in the U.S. In a recent study, led by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the rate of needlestick-type injuries was 7.6 per 100 nurses. At this rate, the scientists estimate that there are nearly 10,000 such injuries each year in home care nurses. The findings, reported in the paper, “The Prevalence and Risk Factors for Percutaneous Injuries in Registered Nurses in the Home Health Care Sector,” were published in the September 2009 issue of American Journal of Infection Control. According to lead author Robyn Gershon, DrPH, professor of clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator, “although professionally and personally rewarding for many, home care nursing can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Our study findings suggest that home healthcare work may be dangerous for nurses who work in this setting. These types of injuries are serious as they can result in infection with bloodborne pathogens, such as hepatitis and HIV.”

A critical finding of this study was the statistical correlation between needlesticks and exposure to stressful conditions in the patients’ household. Nurses reporting household stressors, such as cigarette smoke, unsanitary conditions, air pollution, and vermin, were nearly twice as likely to report needlestick injuries. Most significant was the fact that home healthcare nurses exposed to violence in their patients’ households were nearly three and a half times more likely to also report needlestick injuries, according to the study.”

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