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Education and needlesticks in India


Clinical bottom line

Education and sharp disposal methods can reduce needlestick injuries, but you have to keep on top of it.


VS Richard et al. Impact of introduction of sharps containers and of education programmes on the pattern of needle stick injuries in a tertiary care centre in India. Journal of Hospital Infection 2001 47: 163-165.


A system of documenting and reporting needlestick injuries was instituted at a hospital in Vellore, India, in 1993. In 1995 large containers for sharps were placed in the centre of each ward, and an education programme instituted. In 1998 smaller containers were introduced into all patient areas, and another education programme used. Documented exposures and reasons were captured for each year from 1993 to 1999.


The total number of needlestick injuries is shown in Figure 1. The red vertical arrows show when the sharps containers and education programmes were introduced. Following each there was a diminution in needlestick injuries, but between the two initiatives the number of injuries rose substantially.

Figure 1: Total needlestick injuries, with arrows showing introductions of sharps containers and education programme.


This short paper does not tell us about the intensity of work in the hospital, nor about other factors that may have affected the number of needlestick injuries. Introduction of sharps containers probably helped, but it is likely that it was the education programmes that contributed the most. What is missing is any knowledge about ongoing education and training between the two initiatives, or any reason why the number of injuries was so high in 1997 and especially 1998. Clearly you have to keep on top of education and awareness.