Prevalence and risk factors of needle stick and sharps injuries among 15 healthcare workers, Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone, 2022.

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Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of blood-borne pathogens from needle stick and sharps injuries (NSI). About 90% of global NSIs occur in Africa. Since there are limited epidemiological studies on NSIs in Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone FETP trainees and graduates conducted a cross-sectional survey in a major hospital to estimate the prevalence and identify 22 associated factors of NSIs among HCWs.

We conducted a hospital-based cross-sectional survey among HCWs in a major hospital in Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone. A structured questionnaire was administered to HCWs from April 13 through 14, 2022, to collect demographic characteristics, history of NSIs, training on infection prevention and control(IPC), knowledge on NSIs policies, and reporting of NSIs from 2017 to 2021. NSIs are wounds caused by needles or sharp objects that accidentally punctured the skin. Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were performed to identify independent risk factors for NSIs.

Eighty-eight percent (53/60) HCWs completed the questionnaire. Of these, 45% (24/53) had NSIs, 75.5% (40/53) trained on IPC. Among those who experienced NSIs, 25% (6/24) received post-exposure prophylaxis, 54% (13/24) reported NSI to authorities, 79% (19/24) reported one to two injuries and 13% (3/24) reported more than four injuries. Injection needle pricks caused 38% (9/24) of the NSIs and 42% (10/24) occurred during recapping of needles or administering an injection. Although there was no significant variation among professional cadres, males had a reduced chance of having NSI compared to females (POR 0.63; 95%CI: 0.27-1.00). Being aware of the hospital NSI policy reduced the prevalence of NSIs (POR 0.34; 95%CI: 0.07-0.61).

The prevalence of NSIs among HCWs was high but was significantly reduced among HCWs who were aware of NSI policy. Extensive IPC training programs, focusing on the sharps disposal process are urgently needed to prevent NSIs among HCW in Sierra Leone and similar settings.

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