There are 40,000 reported needlestick injuries in the NHS each year (source NHS Employers). It is estimated that the same number again go unreported. This figure doesn’t include care workers, veterinary workers, private health/beauticians etc. The risk of a needlestick injury is high. The best policy is to take all steps you possibly can to avoid such and injury.
- Avoid the use of needles where safe and effective alternatives are available.
- Help your employer select and evaluate devices with safety features that reduce the risk of needlestick injury.Use devices with safety features provided by your employer.
- Avoid recapping needles.
- Plan for safe handling and disposal of needles before using them.
- Promptly dispose of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers.
- Report all needlestick and sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate follow up care.
- Tell your employer about any needlestick hazards you observe.
- Participate in training related to infection prevention.
- Get a hepatitis B vaccination.
This advice comes from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (USA)
Here is a document ‘ Preventing Needlestick Injuries in Health Care settings‘ issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Needlestick injury prevention developments
The majority of needlestick injuries occur within two minutes of the needle being withdrawn from the patient while the needle is still bare and exposed and the chance of infection is at its highest.
To counter the mental, physical and socio-economic problems that arise from such incidents medical suppliers are always looking for improvements in ways of reducing the chance of pin-prick punctures from hypodermics, needlesticks and other sharps.
Cardiomed, a Canadian manufacturer of medical devices will launch at Medica 2012 the Punctur-Guard which has a self-blunting mechanism that activates while the needle is still inside the patient, covering and blunting the needs as it is withdrawn and so effectively removing the two minute window.
Studies have shown that the device perform 2-3 times better than manually activated protective, sliding or toppling devices and requires less training for its effective use.
If you have had a needlestick injury you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries and losses.
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