Infection and testing following a needlestick injury

If you have a needlestick injury that would be classed as a significant injury then you should have a medical assessment to determine whether a course of post-exposure prophylaxis is needed or whether further tests are required.

If your accident occurs out of hours for your doctor’s surgery you should immediately attend at your local Emergency Department.

If the needle donor i.e. the person on whom the needles were used can be traced then informed consent should be obtained from then to obtain a blood sample to test for a blood-borne virus such as hepatitis B, HIV and hepatitis C.

Post-exposure prophylaxis

Once attending at A&E or your doctors a decision will be taken to decide whether to offer post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if it is available.


HIV PEP consists of a 28-day course of antiretrovirals to be taken orally. It is crucial to the success of the treatment that the PEP course should be started as soon as possible, ideally within one hour of the injury or within 72 hours post exposure at most.

Hepatitis B

Vaccination and immunoglobulin may be recommended dependent upon:

  • The immune status of the child
  • Whether the source is known to be positive or not.

Hepatitis C

Although there is no vaccine or prophylaxis for HCV, treatment is very effective if initiated early. Therefore if the injury is considered to be significant it is important to check for infection by HCV PCR testing at 4-6 weeks.


A tetanus vaccination may be recommended dependent upon:

  • The immune status of the injured party; if a tetanus booster was recently received prior to the incident then further vaccination may not be required
  • If the injury is one that is particularly “tetanus prone” then treatment may be required

Tetanus-prone wounds include:

  • Wounds or burns that require surgical intervention that is delayed for more than 6 hours
  • Wounds or burns that show a significant degree of devitalised tissue
  • A puncture-type injury particularly where there has been contact with soil or manure
  • Wounds containing foreign bodies
  • Compound fractures
  • Wounds or burns in patients who have systemic sepsis

Tetanus-prone wounds are considered high risk if there is heavy contamination with material that is likely to contain tetanus spores and/or extensive devitalised tissue

The tetanus vaccination regimen will range from no vaccine for a fully vaccinated case to an immediate dose +/- human tetanus immunoglobulin if the wound is high-risk.

If you have had a needlestick injury you can, regardless of any need for PEP, look to bring a claim for your injury and losses. Cohen Cramer can help you claim the compensation you deserve on a No Win-No Fee basis. This means that if your claim fails you don’t pay us a penny for the work we have done on your behalf.

To find out how we can help you get in touch with us today:

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