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Needle Stick Injuries

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about needle stick injuries?

Needle stick injuries usually happen to healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics, and labs. Needle stick injuries can also happen at home or in the community if needles are not discarded properly. Used needles may have blood or body fluids that carry HIV, the hepatitis B virus (HBV), or the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus can spread to a person who gets pricked by a needle used on an infected person.

How do needle stick injuries occur?

Needle stick injuries usually happen by accident. Needles may cause injury to you or to someone else if they were not properly discarded after use. An injury can also occur if you do not use gloves to protect your hands while you work with needles.

What should I do if I have a needle stick injury?

How are needle stick injuries treated?

Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) may be needed. PEP is treatment that may protect a person from infection after exposure to another person's body fluids. PEP may be needed if the person whose fluids you were exposed to has a known infection. Do not donate blood, organs, tissues, or semen until your follow-up is completed at 6 months.

When should I follow up with my healthcare provider?

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. You will need more blood tests. You will also need to make sure your medicines are working. PEP for HIV often causes side effects. Talk with your provider about your symptoms. Your provider will need to make sure you are taking the medicine correctly. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

What can I do to prevent needle stick injuries?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.