Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can be dangerous places to work. You never know what types of hazards you may encounter during your shift. Violent patients and family members, exposure to blood and other bodily fluids, lifting heavy patients, and having to answer rapid response calls can all lead to serious work-related injuries and illnesses.
An often overlooked healthcare workplace hazard is that of needle sticks. A cause of much concern during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, needle sticks no longer receive the attention that they did in the past. This doesn’t mean that concerns surrounding needle sticks have gone away. A poke from a used syringe still carries the risk of a person contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases. If a needle pokes you at work, you should be aware of your rights under the workers’ compensation system.
What should you do if you experience a needle stick?
It’s important to remain calm if a used needle pokes you. Tell your supervisor what happened. Be sure to fill out any necessary paperwork and document what happened while the incident is still fresh in your mind.
A needle stick will not result in the instant contraction of a serious disease. That’s why ongoing medical screening is essential. If you know the medical history of the person who the needle was used on, this information can be invaluable when it comes to directing your medical care or for taking preventative measures.
A bloodborne disease will likely require long-term medical treatment. Often, these treatments are expensive. Side effects may leave you unable to work for a period. The good news is workers’ compensation should help address some of these costs. A skilled legal professional can help you explore all available options.