Int Emerg Nurs. 2016 Sep;28:14-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2015.11.007. Epub 2016 Jan 12.
Exposure to bloodborne pathogens is the most serious occupational health risk encountered within the healthcare profession worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million healthcare workers experience percutaneous injuries each year. The objectives of this study were to: (1) examine the frequency of sharps injuries, and (2) assess the adequacy, understanding, and use of post-exposure protocols within a sample of the nursing staff at a busy tertiary care emergency department in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. A mixed-methods descriptive study design was used including key informant interviews to develop the survey, a structured survey of emergency department nursing staff, and document review. Overall, the emergency department staff was well informed regarding the risks of sharps injury and the immediate steps to take in the event of a sharps injury. However, few staff could list essential post-exposure follow-up steps. Over one-quarter (28.9%) of emergency nurses reported a sharps injury during a one-year period according to hospital records. The high incidence of sharps injuries indicates an urgent and pressing need for policy and educational interventions to address the infectious disease risk to this group of emergency department staff.