Learning for life: Sharps injury

Life Long Learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are the
processes by which professionals, such as nurses, develop and improve their

There are many ways to address CPD: formally, through attending courses,
study days and workshops; or informally, through private study and reflection.
Reading articles in professional journals is a good way of keeping up-to-date
with what is going on in the field of practice, but reflecting and identifying
what you have learned is not always easy.

These questions are designed to help you identify what you have learned from
studying the article. They will also help you to clarify what you can apply to
practice, what you did not understand and what you need to explore further.

1. Godfrey’s survey indicated what percentage of injured people were not
the original sharps users?

a) 20%
b) 25%
c) 40%
d) 50%

2. Which of the following has NOT been found in laundry?

a) Theatre instruments
b) IV cannulae
c) Teeth
d) Toenail clippings

3. Which infection are you at a greater risk of catching from a
contaminated sharp?

a) Hepatitis A
b) Hepatitis B
c) Hepatitis C
d) HIV

4. What was the most reported reason for non-compliance of safe working practices?

a) Speed of performance
b) Lack of resources
c) Lack of protective clothing
d) Lack of knowledge of procedures

5. Which legislation does not apply to sharps in the hospital laundry?

a) Management of Health and Safety at Work Regs 1999
b) COSHH 1999
c) Health and safety at work etc Act 1974
d) Display Screen Regulations 1992

6. In the US, how many healthcare workers are exposed to needle stick
injuries each year?

a) 1 million
b) 5 million
c) 10 million
d) 100 million

7. Which working environment was NOT using metal scanning equipment?

a) Prisons
b) Car manufacturers
c) Food
d) Airports

8. Where did the problem lay with the metal detection equipment?

a) Size of aperture
b) Size of conveyor belt
c) The type of laundry
d) The type of metal

9. What PPE do operatives of the Cintex machine require?

a) Goggles
b) Metal toecap shoes
c) Gloves
d) Masks

10. Contamination from blood-borne viruses can be prevented by following:

a) Universal precautions
b) Clinical guidelines
c) National policy
d) Risk assessment


1) c – this question required you to do a little maths
and convert a fraction – 2/5 into a percentage. If you have problems with
numbers and calculations it is worth making an effort to learn, particularly as
nurses are now taking on the role of prescribing. Read the article in Nursing
Standard, 5 March, Vol 17 no 25 – Calculating for new prescribers. Available
online. 2) d – There probably were toenail clippings and all sorts of
other things not listed in the text. To see more, look at the picture from the
GMB website in the article. 3) b – Obtain a copy of the RCN Be sharp –
be safe pack, (code 001 425), for more information and to update your
knowledge. 4) a – Isn’t this the main reason why people don’t follow
safety precautions – because it slows down the process? Discuss this with your
colleagues and explore what can be done to help overcome the problem. 5) d
– Of course if there are DSE in the laundry, then it does apply to laundry
workers – but not here in the context of sharps. 6) c – 10 million
healthcare workers in the US and 1 million registered healthcare workers in the
UK, of which 64 per cent are nurses. The remaining 36 per cent are all the
other 16 healthcare professionals, and this does not take into account all
those healthcare workers who are not registered or those who don’t have to be. 7)
– They may well use metal detectors too, but they were not mentioned here.
8) a 9) c
– For the right sort of gloves and more information on skin care,
visit www.enviroderm.co.uk. 10) a – Universal precautions are what they
say – universal – and apply in every place of work when handling sharps.

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