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Don’t Get Stuck! Sharp Safety in Corrections

Don’t Get Stuck! Sharp Safety in Corrections

Lorry Schoenly | Correctional Nurse

I visit many jails and prisons across the country providing risk consultation for healthcare units. It is not rocket science to reduce injury risk but it is still very hard to do! Take sharp safety for example. We all know what we need to do but don’t always do it. Protecting ourselves from a needle stick injury takes second (or third or fourth!) place to so many other concerns being juggled.

Personal safety is a number one concern in the corrections environment. Correctional nurses are ever aware of who is around them and where custody staff are located. Just as important to personal safety are standard sharp safety procedures. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

• Are needle boxes overflowing? Boxes should be only 2/3 full. Check that there is a regular supply of empty boxes for frequent replacement. Many needle stick injuries come from trying to shove used needles into an overfull red box.
• Do staff members throw other trash in the sharps box? This makes is even harder to keep available for sharps waste.
• Are there sharps containers in all care areas? We provide care in a variety of locations in the facility. Always have a sharps container available before you give the injection or use the lancet. This will help avoid carrying used sharps back to the main medical unit.
• Do I know how to initiate the sharp safety mechanism for the needle brand used in my facility? It is amazing how many of these mechanisms are NOT intuitive. I know of several needle stick injuries due to incorrect initiation of the sheath protector.
• Am I in a secure location? Check around you before starting your insulin line or other sharps-based activity. Needle stick injuries have come from nurses startled by custody or inmates during the injection process.

HIV is estimated to be five times higher for the incarcerated population. That means correctional nurses are in even greater jeopardy of infection from a needle stick injury. Protect yourself and your family by establishing good needle safety habits.

December has been designated International Sharp Safety Month. What will you do today to keep safe from a needle stick and possible blood borne pathogen transfer? Share your sharps experiences or some additional advice in the comments section.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    A good friend of mine works in corrections and loves it. Safety is the cornerstone of everything you do. You will never be alone with an inmate, guards will always be present and the inmate kept secure. You are responsible for med passing, tending to the minor complaints of the inmates, and you need to get good at weeding out the fakers from the really sick people, etc. You would be well off to have a criminal justice degree or a psych background to learn about personality types, manipulative people, etc.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Excellent tips, thank you!

  • 1024963740_m_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    one of the great things about the prison I worked in was that inmates administered their own insulin shots, the nurse drew the correct amount of insulin up and set the needle on a tray between her and the inmate and inmate injected self. Lancets were used by inmate under supervision and dropped into sharps container. Of course this was not workable for those in isolation, however for insulin clinic, it worked like a dream and reduced risk of a contaminated needle sticks.

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