By Dr Shehryar Hameed Siddiqi
Registrar, Baqai Dental College
Needlestick injury is the penetration of the skin by a needle or other sharp object, which has been in contact with blood, tissue or other body fluids before the exposure. These injuries have the possibility to lead to transmission of blood-borne diseases, placing those exposed at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, commonly such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Among healthcare workers and laboratory personnel worldwide, more than 25 blood-borne viruses have been reported to be caused by needlestick injuries. It is most commonly reported in final year students specially posted in the department of oral surgery.
Best prevention methods includes, always using extreme caution when passing sharps during four-handed dentistry, needles should remain capped prior to use and not be left uncapped or unattended, needles should not be bent, recapped or otherwise manipulated by using both hands, needles should be recapped as soon as possible, using a one-handed scoop technique or commercial recapping device as availability, when suturing, tissues should be retracted with an instrument, rather than fingers.
Post treating the patient sharps should be identified and carefully removed from trays before cleaning instruments, they should be discarded in clearly labelled containers, when cleaning contaminated instruments by hand, heavy duty utility gloves, appropriate clothing and long-handled brushes should be used.
If we fail to prevent the injury it can be managed efficiently by allowing the wound to bleed briefly and freely. Gently wash the wound with soap and water. Small wound and puncture should be cleaned by an antiseptic eg alcohol based hand hygiene agent and apply a bandage.
In all cases of significant exposure, the dentist should assess the source patient’s status and risk for blood-borne illness by reviewing the medical history and, if necessary, asking the patient additional questions. If any infectious history is present then post bandage the injured should seek proper medical advice ASAP!