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Needles "endanger nurses' lives"

Nurses have been warned of the potentially lethal consequences of being injured by a needle previously used to treat a patient.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reports that 90% of nurses surveyed said an injury from a needle drew blood, putting them at risk from HIV and hepatitis C.

While most nurses have received information from their employer on the risks of blood-borne diseases, more than a quarter have not.

And although most employers have a "sharps" policy that covers prevention and reporting, only half of nurses have received any training on safer needle use, the survey found.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: "With potentially lethal consequences, being stuck by a needle can be a very traumatic experience. It is therefore no surprise that over half of nurses are working in fear.

"Government and employers need to start taking this issue seriously by investing in safer alternatives to traditional needles so that these accidents don't happen in the first place.

"Nurses should also receive full support from their employers when they sustain an injury because no one wants to feel isolated and alone when going through such trauma."

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Royal College of Nursing

"Investing in alternatives to traditional needles will be a good idea but, due to overcrowding, the risk is even more increased, so if the government considers an adequate nurse-patient ratio, that will help to reduce the risk" – Rowland Bezzina, Mater Dei Malta