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‘I’m too embarrassed to tell occupational health about my needlestick injury’


Do you have any advice for this student nurse?

“Hi there,

“So, last week I did the unthinkable and attempted to resheath a used needle, resulting in a tiny prick to my finger. Please don’t tell me how stupid I was because, trust me, I am well aware and so embarrassed.

“I probably should have told the nurse I was with straight away but my first reaction was to hide how stupid I’d been and I just put the needle in the sharps bin and got on with the shift.

“Now I’m terrified that I’ve picked something up, but not scared enough to admit what I’ve done.

“Is there anywhere I can go to get tested where they won’t tell my placement? I’m worried it will affect my employment prospects there.”

Anonymous, London


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Readers' comments (6)

  • I had a needlestick injury in my very first placement, very embarrassing as it was a sunday and out of hours from occupational health and had to sit in A&E for hours to get it sorted. The week after though occupational health was great, they advised me on what action to take and how to avoid accidents of this sort again. My advice to you would be to own up and go and see occupational health, at the end of the day you are putting your own health at risk and god forbid if you have contracted anything from the injury then you are putting your patients at risk also. I would also confide in someone at your univesity, your personal tutor maybe in the hopes that they can set you on the path for you to be able to come to terms with what has happened which is/was an accident.

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  • This happens to the best of us you do really really need to tell occupational health dept god forbid you will be effected in the future by this we learn the hard way .
    Occupational health can guide and support you in this there should be a Policy in your placement area which tells you what you should do in this event please please please get advice and put this to bed once and for all

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  • you cannot let embarrassment get in the way of your own health and safety and that of others. during you long career you will come across many situations where you will have to learn to overcome personal feelings. this is perhaps a good place to start. there is no shame in a needle stick injury. they can happen to anybody and even the most experienced. Good luck and the best of health. Hopefully it is nothing to worry about but always best to seek advice as soon as possible.

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  • Agree with others - you should contact Occ Health. They can help do a risk assessment based on patient needle used on, and ensure appropriate testing so you don't need to worry about possible infections. There are confidentiality rules which prevent them sharing health info with your placement without your consent (with the legal exceptions you'll have learnt during your training re: confidentiality/public health) so there shouldn't be any risk to future employment.
    Re: having resheathed dirty needle - we're all human, & I'm betting you've learnt from experience and won't be doing that again (plus legislation means workplace should have safety needles now anyway). It's learning from experience, changing future behaviour & taking accountability & honesty that Code of Conduct requires - not being superhuman/perfect.
    Question doesn't say re: what you did at the time. Remember the first aid for a needlestick injury - make it bleed and run under tap/clean. Also, if you were wearing gloves, they wipe off most of the blood, even if pierced in the process, reducing the risk of any infection issues.
    The worry it's causing you at the moment needs to be addressed for your sake - do talk to Occ Health.

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  • Hi I am a final year student nurse, and would say yes it is embarrassing to have had a needlestick injury (I know, I had one- luckily from an un-used needle- but I felt so silly for it) but lets be honest, most people will have done it at somepoint in their career. I think you should disclose it.. at least go and get a blood test at your GP.. Disclosing it will make you feel much better as you are potentially putting your life at risk if you dont do anything about it. They cant get rid of you for something so simple. Please, get the blood test :)

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  • Why feel shame or quilt part of nursing?
    Why feel shame or quilt if transmitted with hepatitis C-part of nursing?

    Why feel shame or quilt-patient that died after transmitted by HCV/HIV blood transfusions?

    Im a Swedish nurse, no longer in practice after that fatal incident, it destroy so many things in my licfe, it.s one of the most serious work injuries in Healthcare, the SILENCE among collegues have not help us out....One time we all bee free....

    Read this UK artical, thank you for support!

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