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Sharp sense: Promoting the safety of health care workers

21 July 2011


In this short video, a nurse, an HIV/AIDS counsellor and an HIV/AIDS physician share their personal experiences with needlestick injuries.

Exposure to pathogens in blood and other body fluids of patients is a daily risk for all healthcare workers. This DVD promotes the safety of healthcare workers. "Sharp Sense" is designed to lower the risk of consequences of exposure. It stresses three ways to increase the safety of workers in healthcare settings:

  • “Sharp Sense” reminds the health care worker of the systematic use of Universal Precautions to prevent exposure.  This includes regular hand-washing, use of disposable gloves and of masks and aprons when necessary, good practices in regard to all sharps (never recapping needles; always using a dedicated sharps container for disposal; and systematic safe waste disposal).  The DVD includes access to Hepatitis A & B vaccination as a basic Universal Precaution, and emphasizes the need for filtering masks when treating patients with Tuberculosis
  • “Sharp Sense” draws the attention of the audience to the benefits of safety- engineered needle devices for all purposes (intramuscular and intravenous injections, drawing blood and body fluids).  The DVD explains that devices with retractable needles are especially safe, not only for healthcare workers, but also for the community at large, should the device wrongly end up in the environment;
  • “Sharp Sense” advocates for post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection when a healthcare worker has been exposed to the virus due to a needle stick injury. Post-exposure prophylaxis must be available in all health care settings for all workers who may be exposed, including workers who clean, remove waste, and manage laundry.  Every effort must be made to encourage its use.

In addition to the full version of “Sharp Sense”, which lasts 17 minutes, there are two short versions, designed as web clips. “The Essential Sharp Sense” provides a brief overview of the main points of “Sharp Sense” in fewer than 4 minutes. “Preventing Hepatitis” addresses the specific need to vaccinate healthcare workers against Hepatitis A & B in fewer than 2 minutes.

The accompanying brochure is available below.

The "Sharp Sense" series of videos was produced by Public Services International with partial support from the PSI-affiliated unions ST and VISION of Sweden and JHL of Finland, and LO-TCO Bistandsnamnd and SASK, the international cooperation organisations of the Swedish and Finnish trade union movements.

We thank the staff and patients at Far East Rand, Germiston and Pelonomi Hospitals, PSI South African affiliates HOSPERSA, DENOSA and NEHAWU, PSI South Africa, and the World Health Organization.


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