Coping with a needlestick/sharps injury
- August 9, 2012
- Comments Off on Coping with a needlestick/sharps injury
Needlestick injuries can happen in many walks of life but primarily in the workplace.
If you work:
- in the care industry
- in hospitals
- in veterinary practices
- in tattoo parlours
- in cleaning and maintenance
Then you are sooner or later, statistically speaking, more likely to be placed in a situation where you are at risk from a needlestick or sharps injury, Hopefully your employer will have provided you with adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and a safe system of work so that the chances of injury are greatly reduced.
Even in the most controlled workplace accidents can still happen and if you suffer a needlestick injury you need to know what to do.
Immediate medical treatment should be sought:
- encourage bleeding from the puncture site, wash with soap and running water, do not scrub the area
- report incident and discuss and go and immediately see your doctor or, if you work in the health industry your designated health officer
- if there is a significant risk of HIV from the donor needle then post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be started within the hour and in accordance with the local health authority protocol for such events
- a blood sample from the injured party should be sent for virology to check for the main BBV: HIV, hep. B and hep. C
- consider your needs for antibiotic therapy or hepatitis B immunisation
- fill out your works accident book and complete a critical event audit if there is one in place,
You may be required to answer a number of questions as part of the assessment and treatment programme.
- is it a deep or surface puncture
- if the puncture was caused by a needle, what gauge was the needle
- was the needle solid (suturing) or hollow
- could you see blood or bloody material on the surface of the needle or scalpel
- was the device previously in contact with patient’s body fluids
- if blood was injected into you, how much
- were you wearing protective gloves
In addition there may be questions about your personal history
Do you have any medical conditions or allergies, have you been exposed to HIV before – if so, when, how? are you pregnant? are you breast-feeding? are you sexually active?
All these questions are vital to determining the correct treatment pattern and full cooperation should be given.
Be assured that the chances of contracting a blood borne virus (BBV) are slim with less than 10 reported cases of HIV infection by way of subcutaneous transmission in the last decade.
This won’t stop you worrying about the possibility of infection by a BBV and you should, if you feel it appropriate, ask your doctor/employer to arrange counselling for you. It is understood that, pending your final all-clear results, you will suffer stress and concern and the right treatment can be of great help in coming to terms with the injury and its possible consequences.
You are also entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and stress even if you are not infected and you should seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience in dealing with needlestick claims. For the quality legal service you deserve see our dedicated needlestick claims website
or call Mike Massen of Gartons Solicitors on 0113 237 9617.