Study examines needlestick injuries among pharmacists

Chicago – Most needlestick injuries among pharmacists occur during peak flu vaccination months, although overall incidence is low, indicates a NIOSH study of a national pharmacy chain.

The chain administered more than 2 million vaccinations over an 11-year period. In that time, 33 needlestick injuries occurred at 31 different pharmacy locations, according to a press release from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, which published the study. The annual needlestick injury rate ranged from 0 to 3.62 per 100,000 vaccinations, and from 0 to 5.65 per 1,000 immunizing pharmacists.

Injuries primarily occurred after needle use and before disposal (58 percent), and during peak flu vaccination months (79 percent). However, researchers noted that needlestick injuries often are underreported and the rates may be an underestimate.

Although the rates were lower than those in hospital settings, most of the injuries could have been prevented by following safe work practices, researchers suggested in the release. They recommended better tracking of injuries to identify contributing factors and following needlestick prevention guidelines (.pdf file).

The study was published in the November issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

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