Mexico: Occupational Risk of Infection with HIV, 1989

CIET studied 340 health workers in the General Hospital in Acapulco to measure the risk at work of accidental needle pricks from syringes. Only 40% of health workers took adequate precautions in their method of disposing of used needles. Some 60% of health workers handled used syringes incorrectly: washing, sterilizing and reusing needles; giving them to a nurse; leaving them in the area of work; throwing them into any bin; and removing the needle or replacing the needle protector after use. In the month prior to the survey 28% of health workers had unintentionally pricked themselves with a needle and 75% of these accidents occurred after the needle had been used on a patient.
On average each hospital worker was accidentally pierced by a needle two to three times a year. The workers most at risk were resident doctors (60%) and nurses (40%). The analysis revealed that the 60% of health workers who took inadequate care with used needles and syringes had a four times greater risk of accidental needle pricks than those who handled them correctly. One in three needle accidents among trained health personnel who use needles incorrectly, could be avoided if they received training in correct management of needles.
As a result of this study CIET published a leaflet on HIV and AIDS for health personnel and proposed that there should be a universal set of standards for care and use of needles and syringes. A training programme in safe handling of needles and syringes for all personnel in the General Hospital was created.