2330 Needle stick injuries in Gauteng hospitals

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

Medical staff in Gauteng public hospitals suffered 2330 needle stick injuries in the past three years.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

It is worrying that the number of needle injuries has increased every year as follows:

  • 2012 – 685
  • 2013 – 807
  • 2014 – 838

The highest number of needle stick injuries last year was at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which recorded 252 injuries, followed by Steve Biko Hospital (154), Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg (100), Ann Latsky Nursing College (66) and Kalafong (48).

The following 8 hospitals did very well in having no needle injuries reported in 2014 at all:

  • Pretoria West
  • Weskoppies
  • Cullinan
  • Sizwe
  • Kopanong
  • Sebokeng
  • Tambo Memorial
  • Heidelberg

According to Mahlangu, there is a standard operating procedure in reporting needle stick injuries which includes notifying it as an injury on duty to the Compensation Commissioner.

There is a high risk of HIV/Aids exposure with needle stick injuries, which is why a 28-day ARV course is prescribed which is often unpleasant and debilitating.

I am concerned that no formal survey has been done to determine the causes of the high number of needle injuries, but the department says there are plans to do this.

Medical staff need more protection against alarmingly high needle hazards in Gauteng hospitals.

More use should be made of safety needles and extra training to ensure that needle injuries are minimized as much as possible.