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Unveiling the Persistent Risk of Needlestick and Sharps Injuries Among Healthcare Workers: Evidence from a Somali Tertiary Care Hospital

The occupational hazards linked with the healthcare profession are often overlooked and undermined, but carry serious implications. One such hazard, particularly for Healthcare Workers (HCWs), is the risk of needle stick and sharps injuries (NSSIs). The issue attains greater gravity due to the potential transmission of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). A recent study assesses the prevalence and contributing risk factors of these injuries in a tertiary care hospital in Somalia. The understanding of the threat posed by NSSIs is critical for healthcare professionals globally.

Our findings derived from a six-year retrospective analysis (2017-2022) of the Somali Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan Research and Training Hospital’s records have revealed significant insights. From the incidents examined, nurses were recorded as the most vulnerable group, constituting 52.4% of the total needlestick and sharps injury cases. Cleaners (22.3%), physicians (18.5%), and technicians (6.9%) follow in line.

Regarding the prevalent areas for these accidents, operation theaters projected the highest risk (21.9%) trailed by inpatient care (17.6%) and emergency rooms (16.7%). It was found that in 81.1% of the incidents, hypodermic needles were the leading causative instrument.

Among the contaminated devices resulting in the injuries, an alarming 24.9% were found to harbor Hepatitis B. Furthermore, a noteworthy link between gender and the location of injury was also discovered. Overall, the study highlighted that 8.6% of HCWs had encountered an NSSI incident in the previous year.

These findings reiterate a global concern. Despite countries employing advanced prevention methods like real-time injury monitoring systems and standard operating protocols, NSSIs remain a lingering problem. It is more acute in developing nations who grapple with lower resources, negligence towards personal protective equipment, and flawed post-exposure prophylaxis. Infection control departments need to relentlessly drive adequate training, education, and awareness, focusing particularly on nurses and cleaners to mitigate the consequences of NSSIs.


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