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Needle sticks still a risk for healthcare workers

Hospitals and other healthcare settings are dangerous workplaces. Volatile patients and family members, exposure to bodily fluids, heavy lifting and the need to respond on the fly can all result in serious work-related injuries and illnesses.

A cause of much concern in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, needle-stick injuries no longer receive the attention that they did in the past. However, a poke from a needle still carries the risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases. Medical professionals whose skin is punctured by a used syringe or intravenous needle should be aware of their rights under the workers’ compensation system.

What happens after a needle stick?

If you’re poked by a needle at work, it’s important to remain calm. Inform your supervisor of what happened and take care of any paperwork and other documentation. When it comes to needle sticks, ongoing medical screening is crucial. If you know the medical history of the person with whom the needle previously came in contact, this knowledge can help drive medical examinations and other preventative measures.

Should you end up acquiring a serious medical condition – such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C – long-term treatment is a must. Treatment of these and other blood-borne pathogens can be expensive. The good news is you may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ comp can help cover most, if not all, of your medical costs. Should your condition prevent you from returning to work – either temporarily or permanently – it is worth looking into your options for disability coverage. You should discuss all of your available options with a skilled legal professional.

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