Injury reports in pharmacies suggest extra caution during peak flu vaccination months

A recent NIOSH study examined the reported incidence of needlestick injuries at a US nationwide pharmacy chain and revealed a few valuable conclusions. From 2000 to 2011 there were 33 needlestick injuries reported by 31 different pharmacy locations. Of these 33 injuries, 24 (73%) occurred from September through January, the period during which flu vaccinations are commonly administered.

Overall incidence of needlestick injuries was low, with annual incidence of needlestick injuries at these pharmacies ranging from 0 to 3.62 per 100,000 vaccinations. Injuries were most likely to occur after needle use and before disposal (58% of reported incidents). Additionally, researchers warned that needlestick injuries are often underreported.

The researchers believe that many if not all of the needlestick injuries they reviewed were likely preventable. Their recommendations included better tracking of injuries and following needlestick prevention guidelines. Vaccination providers can hopefully learn from the observations made in this study and develop necessary safety precautions during this flu vaccination season.

At Intelex, we believe that knowing when an injury is most likely to occur is an excellent step towards preventing it. Reporting on workplace injuries is a good starting point, but the data collected should be used to encourage continuous improvement in corporate safety practices.

The study appeared in November’s issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

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