Analysis of needlestick injuries among nursing students in Hong Kong
Background: Research has shown that nursing personnel are exposed to the serious risk of contracting bloodborne diseases from needlestick and sharps injuries (NSIs). Only a few studies have examined the problem among nursing students. In Hong Kong, there is an equal lack of research in this area. Methods: A review of accident reports in one university was employed to determine the injury rate, causation, and epidemiological profile of NSIs. Descriptive statistics, prevalence, incidence density, cumulative incidence, and Fisher's exact test were used to analyze the data. Results: From January 2002 to December 2006, there were a total of 51 reported cases of NSIs (43 needlestick injuries and 8 sharps injuries). The annual prevalence of NSIs in four academic years from 2002-2003 to 2005-2006 ranged from 0.6 to 1.6 cases while the incidence rate was one new case per 100 nursing students per academic year. The cumulative incidence of NSIs for year-one, year-two and year-three students were 0, 0.03 and 0.004 respectively. The majority of needlestick injuries (n=25; 58.14%) were from contaminated needles. Procedures involved in the needlestick injuries were giving injection (n=22; 51.16%), collecting urine specimen (n=5; 11.63%), removal of urinary catheter (n=4; 9.30%), and checking blood glucose using glucometer (n=3; 6.98%). Giving injection (n=5; 62.50%) also accounted for the highest percentage of sharps injuries. Specific activities that were identified were opening the needle cap, opening ampoules, inserting the needle and mixing dirty and clean material in one kidney dish. Conclusions: Results showed that nursing students are at high risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens because of NSIs. A hierarchy control involving engineering, administrative and personal behavioral activities is recommended to reduce the occurrence of NSIs among nursing students.