First Aid for Needle Stick Injuries
In this series on first aid, we are working to demystify and break down some of the procedures that are followed by first aiders. We have already covered first aid for insect bites and stings, what to do if someone is having an asthma attack and we explained what DRSABCD is.
In today’s blog we are going to talk about what first aiders do when dealing with a needle stick injury.
There are few moments that are quite as fraught with anxiety and uncertainty than when someone discovers they have been stuck with a needle and they don’t know what’s in it.
Needle stick injuries are especially dangerous because when an unknown needle punctures someone’s skin. It puts them at risk of all sorts of blood borne diseases not to mention they are also at risk of whatever was in the needle.
Needle Stick injuries are especially common in the healthcare profession as many healthcare professionals work around and near needles. There are approximately 18,000 needle stick injuries in the healthcare field every year in Australia.
One in nine nurses has reported at least one needle stick injury in the past year.
Needle stick injuries are associated with a risk of blood borne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, human immunodeficiency virus, malaria, mononucleosis, diphtheria, herpes, tuberculosis and syphilis.
If someone has been stuck with an unknown needle and is conscious, then a first aider will follow these steps:
- They will reassure a patient. Trying to calm them down and make sure they are comfortable and feel safe. This can be quite a distressing experience and it’s important to keep someone calm when trying to administer first aid.
- They will not immediately badge the wound. They let the wound bleed freely for a few seconds.
- Then they will wash the wound site with soap and running water if they can. If that’s not possible they might be able to use an alcohol base rub or wash to clean it.
- If needed they will apply a sterilizsed, waterproof dressing.
- The first aider will then advise that the patient should immediately see their doctor or go straight to the emergency department.
- The first aider will recommend that the needle should be kept in a sturdy container with a lid and taken for testing so the patient can know what precautions should be taken from the injury.
If someone has been stuck with a needle and they are not conscious a first aider will immediately follow the DRSABCD Basic Life support plan and call an ambulance.
If you’re interested in being able to offer support and safely assist someone in the event they are stuck with an unknown needle, you can complete our first aid course.
The first aid course only takes one day to complete in a face-to-face workshop with online learning prior to attending. In this workshop you’ll learn how to provide CPR, basic life support and first aid.
Get in touch our course advisors to determine the right First Aid course for your needs.