Medical Definition of Needlestick injury

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Needlestick injury: A penetrating stab wound from a needle (or other sharp object) that may result in exposure to blood or other body fluids. The main concern is exposure to the blood or other body fluids of another person who may be carrying infectious disease. The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

In case of such a needlestick injury, you should immediately follow these steps:

  • Wash needlesticks and cuts with soap and water.
  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water.
  • In case of splashes to the eyes, irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile irrigants.
  • If the incident occurs at work, report the incident to your supervisor.
  • Immediately seek medical treatment.

These recommendations are in line with those of the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention).

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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