Needlestick injuries and the compensation culture
- April 29, 2015
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Recently voiced concerns that the level of claims being brought against the NHS are causing issues with the level of service provided to patients may not be as founded as claimed.
A recent Freedom of Information Act request has shown that between 2011 and 2014 there were only eight claims for compensation made against the Leeds Hospital NHS Trust in relation to discarded needlestick injuries.
This is despite the fact that needlestick injuries are one of the most commonly recorded incidents within the NHS.
Mike Massen of Cohen Cramer solicitors made the enquiry following online comments that claims for needlestick injuries were costing the NHS substantial sums.
“I have received a lot of comments from the public citing our willingness to assist the victims of needlestick injuries as being symptomatic of the compensation culture that is costing the NHS millions of pounds. Looking at the figures provided under the FOIA request it is clear that this is simply not the case”.
Those who make a claim following a needlestick injury invariably suffer stress and worry as a result of the need to undergo blood tests for Hepatitis B and C and in some cases HIV. It can take up to 6 months to receive the all-clear following such tests. The damages paid is to compensate for the stress, worry and inconvenience this causes.
Claims generally arise due to the actions of NHS employees who fail to dispose of needle sticks or other sharps in an appropriate and proper fashion leading to an inadvertent puncture wound resulting in the possible transmission of a blood-borne virus.
Mr Massen added that the average level of payment, where there is no actual infection, and to include legal costs rarely exceeds £3000.“Whilst it is accepted that such payments could divert funds from other activities, it is important that we do not denigrate or deny the rights of victims of medical negligence to claim compensation to which they are entitled to pursue under the law. It is the case that the insurance industry and others with vested interests have waged a clever campaign to discredit injured people exercising their long held right to claim. Often their motive is nothing other than profit, rather than any sense of moral duty. I would urge people not to fall for it and see their propaganda for what it is.”