Needlestick injuries – what are the implications?Published
Needlestick injuries – what are the implications?
At Frontier Medical, we have a clear focus on safer sharps and clinical waste containment, and speak regularly to healthcare Trusts about the risks attached to poor sharps management.
There’s good reason for doing so. Whilst healthcare workers are aware of the need to maintain good practice, needlestick injuries (NSIs) in particular are significantly more common than you might think, with potentially life changing implications such as infection or contracting bloodborne diseases.
They are also, in many cases, avoidable. An estimated 28% of needlestick injuries could be prevented every year(1), reducing fear and sharps disposal trauma amongst health workers.
For those not already familiar, an NSI occurs when a needle or a sharp medical instrument, penetrates the skin accidentally. There are approximately 100,000 cases reported per year in the NHS alone(2).
It’ll come as no surprise that some roles are more at risk, given that certain jobs require a greater level exposure to sharps than others. Statistics show that doctors and nurses are most likely to be affected, with 37.8% of NSI cases involving nurses(3). However, it isn’t just these professions that are in danger; other medical professionals, dentists and ancillary staff who handle sharps are also likely to be affected. Whilst many are trained in sharps management, 30% of NSIs happen to someone who is not the user of the sharp and in over 5% of cases, the source patient isn’t known(4).
Whatever the medical profession, the need for sharps safety devices and sharps containment products is essential. Figures show the challenges healthcare workers face when dealing with NSIs, with one in three at risk of contracting Hepatitis B if an incident occurs(5). Less common, but no less serious, is that one in 30 are at risk of the transmission of Hepatitis C and one in 300 at risk of HIV(6).
The risk of infection aside, NSIs also present a significant financial implication for healthcare providers. According to the NHS Resolution annual report and accounts (2016/ 2017)(7), it received over 1,800 incident claims for NSIs over the past five years, with successful claims costing the NHS over £4 million.
In response to the incidence of NSIs and the resulting cost, UK health and safety guidance states that used sharps should be disposed at the point of use(8) by the user, and that’s something we’ve tried to address with our Near Patient Sharps Disposal (NPSD) practice and associated products.
It’s part of our Sharpsafe portfolio of sharps disposal containers and accessories. They are designed to deliver safer management of sharps and help to avoid and reduce the incidence of NSIs.
The NPSD range include Sharpsafe trays that are designed to hold a sharps container and are designed specifically to be taken to the patient, providing a large, easy to clean surface, as well as equipment to give injections and carry the required paraphernalia. This then allows for sharps to be disposed of at the point of use, putting health care workers at a much lower risk and helping to reduce the risk of NSIs.
You can find out more about our Sharpsafe range and how it can help reduce needlestick injuries on our Sharpsafe page.
References1. International Safety Center. U.S. EPINet Sharps Injury and Blood and Body Fluid Exposure Surveillance Research Group. Sharps Injury Data Report for January 2015; 1,133 total injuries analysed. Link2. Managing the risks of sharps injuries, NHS Employers Link3. International Safety Center. U.S. EPINet Sharps Injury and Blood and Body Fluid Exposure Surveillance Research Group. Sharps Injury Data Report for January 2015; 1,133 total injuries analysed. Link4. International Safety Center. U.S. EPINet Sharps Injury and Blood and Body Fluid Exposure Surveillance Research Group. Sharps Injury Data Report for January 2015; 1,133 total injuries analysed. Link5. Eye of the Needle Report, 2014. Link6. Eye of the Needle Report, 2014. Link7. NHS Resolution’s annual report and accounts. Link8. Managing the risks of sharps injuries, December 2015 Link