Background: Hepatitis B is a dreadful infectious disease and a major global health problem. Health-care workers including clinical students are more vulnerable to such infections and non-sterile occupational exposures as their daily activities are closely related to patient's blood and body fluids.
Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted at B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), Dharan, Nepal from July till October 2012. All medical, dental and nursing students were surveyed for their Hepatitis B vaccination status and only those students in clinical rotations were surveyed for the prevalence and pattern of Needle-stick and Sharps-related Injuries (NSSIs) using a pre-tested, semi-structured, self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistics was used to analyze the data.
Results: Majority (86.5%) of students were vaccinated against Hepatitis B of which 83.7% had completed full doses. Among non-vaccinated students, 43.2% reported the main reason for non-vaccination as lack of vaccination programs. Out of 210 respondents from clinical rotations, 90 students (42.8%) reported at least one injury. Among those injured, two students reported exposure to Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive cases and four to Hepatitis B virus (HBV) positive cases. Most of the injuries (44%) occurred during Internal Medicine rotation and the most common sharp involved (56.3%) was Hypodermic needle. Most injuries (35.6%) occurred while manipulating needle into patients. Following exposure, only 11.4% took Post exposure prophylaxis and 19.54% went for a Post-exposure serology test.
Conclusions: Needle-stick and Sharps-related Injuries occur frequently among health care workers including trainee students keeping them at high risk for acquiring dreadful infections like HBV, HCV and HIV. They need to be protected from unwarranted hazards by adopting routine Hepatitis B vaccination programs and by reinforcing education regarding universal precautions.