Keeping our staff safe (preventing acquisition of Blood Borne Viruses) – Reducing needle-stick injuries in healthcare workers

Ms Jillian Martinelli1, Ms Leanne Frazer1

1Staff Health and Infection Prevention, HNELHD, Newcastle, NSW, Australia



Despite an extensive education program, needle-stick injuries in the Hunter New England region remained a significant risk to healthcare workers. Local data indicated that the highest risk was associated with Subcutaneous and Intramuscular injections. In 2016 a project was commenced to review and implement Safety Engineered Sharps Devices (SESDs) for all Subcutaneous and Intramuscular injections. The review involved: district committee, analysis of available safety products, cost-benefit analysis, literature review, and safety devices audit.


In 2017 the HNE Health Chief Executive mandated the implementation of approved Safety Devices throughout HNELHD and the removal of all non-safety needles (excluding speciality needles). This mandatory directive with associated training across all services and facilities in District is the first in NSW. Collaboration occurred between relevant stakeholders. Implementation commenced in 2018 with a systematic rollout of training and education of new products (safety mechanism instruction and clinical application). Resources developed included: Policy Compliance Procedure (including exemption process), online training module, and product posters. Following implementation, systems were put into place preventing ongoing ordering of non-safety needles.


1900 relevant clinical staff received face to face education during the implementation phase. Recent HNE reports have shown a 50% reduction in needle-stick injuries since implementation commenced.


Evaluation will occur with 3mth, 6mth and 12mth measures. This will include: regular stock ordering and usage reports, needle-stick injury reports, repeat SESD devices survey, cost analysis of the transition and ongoing costs, reports on exemptions, and online training statistics.


Jillian Martinelli is the District Staff Health Coordinator (Nurse Manager) of Hunter New England LHD providing clinical leadership to our team of Staff Health Nurses. She has a Masters in Applied Management (Nursing) and Grad Cert in Adult and Paediatric ICU. Jillian’s main clinical background has been in ICU nursing and has worked in this field in Australia, New Zealand and London. Jillian is an Authorised Nurse Immuniser who has had previous experience as a GP Practice Nurse.
Leanne Frazer is a Clinical Nurse Consultant with HNELHD Infection Prevention Service providing a District program to HNELHD Mental Health Services. Leanne has a Masters in Applied Management (Health) with over 9 years experience in Infection Prevention and Control, including as HNELHD District Nurse Manager. With over 20 years experience working in the acute Mental Health Services, she is highly experienced in the use and benefits of SESD’s.

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