Safer Sharpes will help to reduce the spread of blood borne viruses

Published on Friday, 28 June 2013 13:26
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Established and respected medical consumable supplier Medicina ltd is concerned by the lack of urgency and wants to help to improve the health and safety of healthcare professionals.

Back in 2010 the European council announced that the use of unsafe sharps used within the healthcare sector is unacceptable and gave a date of 11/05/2013 where all European health boards will have in place an EU directive (2010/32/EU) "The prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector." This gave all members a 3 year period to look at, evaluate and choose the most appropriate safer product(s) they require for their practice.

The aim and objectives of the EU directive is to reduce the amount of needle stick injuries that occur unnecessarily to healthcare professionals carrying out their day to day jobs in a career they have chosen.

An RCN study survey was carried out asking 4,407 nurses in November 2008, the survey found that:

Almost half of all nurses (48%) had been struck by a needle that had previously been used on a patient.Over half of nurses (52%) fear needle stick injuries "a great deal" or "a fair amount"Nearly half (45%) of nurses have not received training from their employer on safe needle use"

The NHS alone spent over £100,000,000 in 2012 dealing with the consequences of needle stick injuries these costs are broken down into:

  • Legal/compensation
  • Tests
  • Treatment
  • Covering sick leave
  • Counselling

By changing from unsafe to safer sharps may at first look like a cost pressure but by looking at the bigger picture you will see it will be a cost effective exercise to the healthcare sector in every country it is implemented.

Failing to implement the EU directive within the NHS may bring a prosecution to senior management along with a fine to the trust in access of £100,000. This will be handed to the trust from the HSE after an unannounced visit has taken place.

The HSE have also taken away all options of "risk assessing" needle stick injuries saying that "if a safer sharp is available to use, it must be used"

Taking all the above into account, we find it extremely concerning and hard to believe that there is such a lack of urgency from the NHS to implement safer sharps and improving the safety of healthcare professionals. There is no reason why the EU directive should not be implement in every acute trust and PCT in the UK.

When selecting a safer product the EU directive states the product:

  • Must not compromise patient care
  • Must perform reliably
  • The safety system to not be a separate accessory
  • Must be easy used and require little change in technique
  • Must be convenient and maintain control
  • Must not create other safety hazards or sources of blood exposure
  • The safety mechanism should not be easily reversible once activated

Training and education is also very important when selecting a new product, all members of staff that will be using the product should be trained and educated on how to use the product correctly, this training should be carried out by the supplier chosen.

Source: Medicina

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