After reading your item on needlestick injuries (page 4, 20 August), I wanted to let you know what we are doing at King's Healthcare trust.
Last summer we set up a working party of senior clinicians to look at the issues of sharps-disposal and handling, conducting in-depth interviews and reviewing needlestick injuries reported.
We found that 2 per cent of staff suffered one each year, but that the majority are not reported. Reducing these injuries could minimise the medical risks (of HIV and other infections such as hepatitis C), and reduce costs associated with treatment and follow-up. We also found the risk of being exposed to infected body fluids can be increased in certain situations; in emergencies, when using fingers while suturing, dealing with difficult patients, re-sheathing needles during intra-venous administration. Healthcare workers should be aware of the risks of transmission of blood-borne viruses and how to reduce them. It is equally important they know the procedure should an injury occur, and of the existence of post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV. The Department of Health now advises treatment with three drugs, zidovudine, lamivudine, and indinavir, to start as immediately after exposure to infected body fluids and continued for one month. We are now looking at providing a training pack, setting-up a 'hotline' to report injuries and reviewing services.
Practice development nurse
Directorate of nursing
King's Healthcare trust