Factors Contributing to Needle Prick Injuries from Healthcare Waste Among Nursing Students of a Medical University in South Africa: A Quantitative Survey

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Globally, it is estimated that about 3 million healthcare workers experience needle prick injuries (NPI)which predispose them to blood-borne pathogens. Nursing students are also at risk of such injuries during clinical practice. The study aimed to identify and describe factors that contribute to NPI and the level of risk associated with each factor from hazardous healthcare waste disposal by the targeted group of students. A cross-sectional quantitative survey was conducted using a pre-tested questionnaire. Factors studied included those related to nursing procedures, personal factors, equipment-related, competency-related and institutional factors. Respondents were expected to rate the level risk associated with each factor described. A total of 96 respondents participated, with average age of 23.4 years, minimum being 18 and maximum of 35 years. Females constituted 80.2 % of the sample compared to 19.8% for males. 80 (83%) respondents rated needle recapping and cleaning of sharps instruments contaminated with blood as of extremely high risk and significantly associated with the occurrence of NPI (p=0.005). Majority (53%) rated the disposal of used needles as of a high risk to NPI. Under personal factors, negligence and ignorance were rated as high risk factors by 75% and 73% of the respondents respectively. Fatigue and anxiety were also rated as carrying a high risk of NPI as respectively declared by 39% and 72% of the respondents. 73% rated the lack of appropriate equipments, 70% rated poor quality of gloves and 81% rated overflowing sharp containers as having extremely high risk and significantly associated with NPI. Unavailability of hospital guidelines (47%) and universal procedures (58%) also carried a high risk to NPI. Identification of the risk factors and effective risk management are essential strategies to reduce/control the risks associated with healthcare waste disposal.


Keywords: Factors, Needle Prick Injuries(NPI), Healthcare Waste (HCW), Nursing Students, South Africa
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , Factors Contributing to Needle Prick Injuries among Nursing Students of a Medical University in South Africa


Dr. Lindiwe I. Zungu

Lecturer, School of Public Health
Department of Environmental-Occupational Health, University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus)

Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Dr Zungu holds a PhD in occupational health from the University of Zululand in South Africa. She is an occupational health care professional with over 12 years experience and she worked at several organizations (private sectors) as an occupational health specialist. She has also received advanced training from the University of Michigan in program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation from an occupational Health Management perspective. She is currently lecturing post-graduate students in the school of Public Health at the University of Limpopo (Medunsa campus) and has also lectured community health for undergraduate nursing students at the same institution.

She has published health-related abstracts and papers in scientific journals and has presented numerous scientific papers and lectures at national and international conferences. She also offers consultancy services and has facilitated a number of problem-oriented workshops for initial and continuing education in occupational health and safety and healthcare management.

She is also a facilitator for organizational psychology and health sciences research for post-graduate nursing students registered at North-West University and is an external examiner for the University of Venda (MPH Program). Her research interests are wellness and safety promotion in the workplace and HIV/AIDS management in the workplace.

Ref: S08P0136