Handling sharp injuries

What is a sharp injury?

A sharp injury is a cut, even a tiny pin prick, received from something sharp.  For instance, you may stand on a used needle in the park, or cut yourself on a razor blade that has previously cut someone else.

It is extremely rare for Hepatitis C to be passed on in this way, as the virus does not survive very long outside the body.  However, if you have been cut by an item that could possibly contain traces of active Hepatitis C virus, here's what to do:

  • Bleed (squeeze blood from the wound) and wash the injury thoroughly under running water as soon as possible.  If you cannot get to a tap, use bottled water.  Do not scrub.
  • Dress the wound with a waterproof plaster.
  • Seek immediate medical advice from your local GP, health centre or hospital. If at work contact your occupational health or first aid personnel in line with your employer's health and safety instructions.
  • Don't touch the item without protective clothing if it is in a public place.  Instead report it to your local authority who can dispose of it safely.  If at work report it in line with your employer's health and safety instructions (see below).

Naturally, you may feel anxious if you have had an accident like this, especially as you wait for test results.  Try not to worry.  Talk to your GP, hospital doctor or specialist who will be able to reassure you throughout the testing process.

Sharp injuries at work

If you are in a job that means you might be exposed to the Hepatitis C virus, your employer must, under health and safety legislation, provide health and safety instructions on how to handle and record an injury.

Healthcare workers

Guidance for those working in the healthcare industry can be found at:

Hepatitis C Scotland


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