Needle sticks are a possibility of both my work (surgeon) and my life (quilting). The ones from work are much more serious, as there is the built in hazard of transmission of HIV, hepatitis, etc. There is a good eMedicine article (Needle-stick Guideline by Brenda Cosens, RN) that covers the guidelines if a needle stick occurs. The best thing is to follow those universal prevention rules we have all been taught:
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after procedures.
- Use protective barriers such as gloves, gowns aprons, masks, goggles for direct contact with blood and other body fluids.
- Disinfect instruments and other contaminated equipment.
- Handle properly soiled linen. (Soiled linen should be handled as little as possible. Gloves and leak-proof bags should be used if necessary. Cleaning should occur outside patient areas, using detergent and hot water.)
- Use of new, single-use disposable injection equipment for all injections is highly recommended. Sterilizable injection should only be considered if single use equipment is not available and if the sterility can be documented with Time, Steam and Temperature indicators.
- Discard contaminated sharps immediately and without recapping in puncture and liquid proof containers that are closed, sealed and destroyed before completely full.
- Document the quality of the sterilization for all medical equipment used for percutaneous procedures.
The ones from quilting/sewing are more a nuisance leading to sore and then calloused fingertips. Yes, these are my fingertips from hand quilting recently.
If I were immunosuppressed, these could be more serious and lead to infections, such as a felon. There are thimbles that can help prevent these needle sticks, but you have to use them. I have never been good at using thimbles. I put one on and then promptly use the finger next to the protected one. It's as if the thimble and lack of sensation causes me to not use the protected finger. I have been able to use the leather thimble, but usually end up with a "hole" in it from repeated use in the same spot. So I just don't bother anymore. Here are three thimbles I own.
However, if you are a quilter or sewer who is on chemotherapy don't do as I do (and I will change my ways if I ever end up there). Either switch to machine quilting only or make yourself learn to use a thimble. Any small (used to be minor) skin injury whether from sewing or gardening or slicing vegetables in the kitchen can lead to infections that will require treatment.Preventing Infection in Neutropenic Patients
Some Blog Posts on Needle Sticks by Medical Folk
Needlestick by GruntDoc
Needle Stick et al by Brain Scramble
My First Needle Stick, Part I and II by Scalpel or Sword?
ICN on Preventing Needle Sticks by PerawatS1Unai
Needle Stick protocol training at the USCG Academy --humorous, but makes the "point"