Needlestick injuries a safety hazard among home-care nurses, study finds

Share this content:

Home-care nurses experience nearly 10,000 needlestick-type injuries per year, according to estimates from a report from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Home- and community-based care services are growing. Increasingly, patients being seen at home have complex health problems that require extensive nursing care, according to the report. Stress and risk factors not typically associated with facility-based nursing care, such as cigarette smoke, unsanitary conditions, vermin and in some cases domestic violence, led to an increased rate of needlestick injuries. A total of 700 New York-based nurses were surveyed for the report. When all the results were factored, researchers found the rate of needlestick injuries among home health RNs was 7.6 per 100 nurses.

Roughly 1.3 million people work in the home health field, including approximately 125,000 RNs. Researchers say that health and safety conditions in home health settings are largely unregulated, and few studies have focused on the potential risks to home health workers. The report, "The Prevalence and Risk Factors for Percutaneous Injuries in Registered Nurses in the Home Health Care Sector," appears in the September 2009 issue of American Journal of Infection Control.