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Keywords:

  • hepatitis B immunisation;
  • needlestick/sharp injuries;
  • nurses;
  • nursing students;
  • Turkey

Aim and objective.  To describe the rate of needlestick/sharp injuries in nursing students, to estimate the rate of vaccination administration and to define nursing students’ status using universal precautions for protecting from blood-borne infections.

Background.  Nursing students have a high risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens because they may have insufficient background knowledge to recognise the level of risk posed by a particular patient and their inexperience with procedural skills and infection control procedures.

Design.  This study was designed as a retrospective and descriptive survey.

Methods.  The frequency and mechanism of needlestick/sharp injuries and hepatitis B immunisation were determined retrospectively by surveying students in three nursing schools. In November 2004, 473 students were questioned about needlestick/sharp injuries that they had sustained during their clinical practice and hepatitis B immunisations.

Results.  Forty-nine per cent of the students who responded sustained injuries; of these 74% were injured while on wards. The highest number (72·2%) had been injured by hollow-bore needles; 65·2% who were injured were not wearing gloves at the time of injury; 27% of injuries were associated with recapping the needle; 43·9% reported their injuries to administrators and the rate of those receiving medical assistance after needlestick/sharp injuries was less than not seeking assistance; 67·7% had been vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Conclusion.  This study showed that nursing students frequently sustain needlestick/sharp injuries and hepatitis B immunisation rate was low.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Findings will help in designing more intensive education programs directed at the students to increase their awareness of and compliance with Universal Precautions and in instituting policies so that they are fully immunised against hepatitis B before beginning clinical practice.