Getting pricked by needles while undergoing or administering medical procedures should not really be a cause of concern, either for patients or medical staff. But what happens if the needle is infected, making it more susceptible to transferring dangerous diseases? That is exactly what happened to a doctor from southern Israel.
"It's not about experience or skill. It happens to medical staff in various capacities. It happened to me a few months ago when I was diligently handling a patient when several viruses caused his body organs to collapse.
"Despite the fact that he was sedated, he managed to resist, and shook his leg, making the needle fly off its spot. It then penetrated my skin through the two surgical gloves I was wearing at the time. This happened despite Taking precautions. An experience like that would make anyone anxious because there is no telling what the ramifications would likely be."
Professor Galia Rahav, who heads the Infectious Disease unit at Sheba Medical Center, knows this phenomenon all too well. She believes that medical staff of all levels, whether it's doctors, sanitational workers and nurses, could all get accidentally pricked by a needle while performing their duties.
"The staff's health is a very important element of working in a hospital. This is a point that became even more substantial in our consciousness during COVID. Should the staff be rendered dysfunctional, there would be no one left to attend to the patients.
"Unfortunately, Israel lacks proper regulation regarding the safety of health workers. If a staff member gets pricked by a needle, it is paramount to report it immediately and undergo several tests and be mindful of the results. It doesn't always happen that way, and awareness at the moment is sorely lacking."
It's not just Israel that lacks accurate data about the scope of this phenomenon. It is well known that in the United States, around 3,000,000 medical staff members are pricked by needles accidentally every year.
Surveys held in Israel have shown that 78% of medical staff have been pricked before, and only 60% of those have reported it. This is a clear testament that this issue is currently not being taken seriously enough.
Can this be prevented? "We must be mindful of everything that relates to awareness as well as prevention. If someone is pricked by a needle, he must be tested and thoroughly cared for immediately. But above all else, awareness must be raised. Staff should be instructed, updated and briefed. We should also establish an authority that will be a sort of association for infectious diseases.
"Initial means of prevention include tools that have enhanced safety features. It's inside operation rooms where many accidental needle-related accidents occur, so we need to purchase more efficient safety tools for medical staff to lower the risk.
"It is also very important that reporting an accidental prick by a needle would be mandatory, and that the bureaucracy relating to this subject will be more streamlined and friendly.
"That way, when someone does get pricked, he would not be apprehensive about complicated bureaucratical procedures that he would have to undertake, and this would be handled accordingly."