According to the CDC, nurses are affected by needle stick injuries more than any other single professional group.¹ We sat down with a nurse who works in a hospital located in the Greater Boston Area to discuss instances of needle stick injuries. To keep the identity of the nurse secret, we have used an alternate name Jane. 


Portal Instruments: The CDC estimates about 385,000 sharps injuries occur annually among hospital-based healthcare personnel.² That is more than 1,000 injuries a day. Can you tell me a time that you or someone you work with has experienced a needle stick injury?


Jane: In terms of needle sticks, I haven’t personally experienced one yet. But, I have co-workers who have experienced a needle stick injury. It’s a very scary situation because  some of your patients might have HIV or Hepatitis and it could be transmitted through the needle. When this happens, the employee must take tests and medications to try to prevent an infection as a result of the needle stick. It’s very stressful and it’s nothing anyone wants to experience. 


Portal Instruments: If there was an alternative to needles used for injection, would nurses be on board?


Jane: Absolutely. It seems like a needle-free option would be safer for nurses and less intimidating for patients who are needle phobic… or anyone for that matter. I mean, there’s no one who really likes needles. As a nurse we use needles every single day. I feel like every time I walk into a patient’s room, I have a medication for them that needs to be injected using a needle. A patient’s reaction is normally, “Oh my god…. Again?” No one likes being poked and prodded that often. Patients still need lab draws every day, requiring the use of needles, but if there was a way to reduce the amount of needles used on a patient during their visit, it would be greatly beneficial to all parties involved in that process. It would certainly lead to less potential needle stick injuries.


Jane: We do have patients who can be very impulsive – they may be going through withdrawal or even have a traumatic brain injury – in those instances in particular a needle-free option would be a huge help and a great safety measure. A lot of the time those patients make sudden movements – even if they are not trying to hurt you – if you have a needle in your hand, and all of a sudden they make a quick movement that could easily cause a needle stick on the nurse. 


Portal Instruments: Do you ever teach patients to self inject?


Jane: Sometimes we send people home on anticoagulant medication that they need to self inject at home. I’ve had to do some teaching on that. 


Portal Instruments: When you tell people they need to self inject at home, what emotions or responses do they have?


Jane: I’ve had a patient who was really afraid of needles and he refused to even go through the self training of injecting at home because he was so afraid. I remember him repeating the phrase, “I absolutely cannot inject, I can’t do it. ” In this case, a family member was going to have to learn for him, and he would be reliant on that person to administer for him at home. Or else he wouldn’t get the medication he needed. Medication non-compliance could cause a patient to potentially end up back in the hospital, which no one wants. 


Jane: The biggest issue I have seen with medication non compliance is with insulin. Diabetic patients come into the hospital for a number of reasons, but a lot of the time they have not been taking their insulin. That could be for a number of reasons. 


Portal Instruments: Do they ever disclose those reasons to you?


Jane: Not generally, no. But I do believe there are people out there who are not compliant because they do not want to stick themselves with a needle. That has serious consequences for patients and their care treatment plan. I’ve seen so many toes, feet and leg amputations because someone wasn’t taking their insulin. I see about one every single week. 


Jane: Overall, I do believe a needle-free option would make a huge difference in the treatment outcome for many patients. 


¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

² Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,