Injuries from needles and other sharp instruments (needlestick / sharps injuries) constitute a known risk in the healthcare sector. Sharps injuries to healthcare workers from instruments contaminated with a patient’s blood have potential to transmit more than twenty infectious diseases including blood-borne viruses. This can have a serious impact on health. Also, the anxiety and side effects of post-exposure prophylaxis can have a significant personal impact on healthcare workers.
The initial regulation included a statutory requirement to carry out a post implementation review (PIR) to assess the effectiveness of the regulatory regime after they have been operational for a period of time. The PIR that this research was used for found that overall the Sharps Regulations provide a sound contribution to the existing legal framework protecting healthcare workers and reducing the risk associated with the use of sharps.
The PIR can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/645/resources.
A survey was administered to managers and employees across a range of both NHS and private organisations. In order to reach as many respondents as possible, the survey was distributed to named contacts (in NHS management roles, private hospitals, GP and dental practices). A total of 783 survey responses were received. Of those, 59.1% were from managers and 40.8% from employees. Just over a third of responses (37.0%) were from NHS Acute Hospitals followed by NHS Community Hospitals (16.5%) and NHS Dental Services (11.0%).
The report also highlighted the importance of the manufacturer in creating the initial awareness of alternative devices incorporating safety features and in providing the necessary training to assure they are used correctly. There is also a need for mop up sessions to cover staff who may have missed the initial training through workload, illness and holidays whilst repeat training sessions to keep staff updated and to reinforce best practice when using these devices is seen as essential.
Swann-Morton provides training sessions in best practice when handling traditional and safety devices whist a comprehensive training programme accredited by the AfPP with associated CPD hours can be accessed via the website.