Case Study

Needle Accident In Hospital

Case Type: Accident at Work
Injury: Leg injury, psychiatric
Settled by: Maria Lakes
Settled on: 9th April, 2024
Needle Accident In Hospital

Case Summary


Patricia’s tasks as cleaner in a hospital consisted of clearing out rooms once patients were discharged. One day while she was emptying a yellow waste bag, she felt a sharp pain in her leg. She looked to see what caused the pain and noticed that a needle wrapped in a bed sheet was sticking out of the bag. Her leg was bleeding profusely. A co-worker came to her aid, and she received further assistance from a nurse on duty. Her wound was cleaned and bandaged at the scene and Patricia was sent for blood tests.

The tests came back negative for any viral diseases, but this was just the beginning of Patricia’s ordeal.

In the days following the accident, Patricia’s anxiety continued to grow. She was afraid that she may have contracted a viral disease despite the initial negative results, so she booked an appointment to see her GP.

Patricia had to be scheduled in for blood tests every few months. Her anxiety began to grow from fear of developing a disease from the used needle. Anticipating the result of each blood test brought her an immense amount of stress.

Patricia became afraid of going to work and was very nervous in the mornings before leaving the house. At work she was very vigilant for danger and was constantly checking for wrongly disposed sharp tools. She found it difficult to complete her tasks and at one point even considered quitting her job.

She had repeated flashbacks to the accident and described poor sleep with insomnia and recurrent nightmares. She switched to the night shifts in an effort to deal with her lack of sleep as she thought she would be tired when she returned home in the mornings, but she still could not sleep. Patricia began to lose a lot of weight due to all these symptoms.

She was referred to see a psychotherapist and there she had seven sessions in total.

Patricia was diagnosed with acute stress reaction disorder and phobic anxiety. She was put on anti-depressant pills by her doctor.

The standard procedure is that the yellow bag is for bed linens, towels, or cloths. Due to the potential infectious nature of sharp used objects such as needles, they should be carefully disposed into the yellow box. Unfortunately, this standard safety procedure was not followed on the day of the accident.

Every employer bears the responsibility of ensuring the well-being of their workforce and is expected to provide a safe and hazard-free environment. Patricia’s employers did not do this, resulting in this painful accident at work.

Case progression:

The Injuries Resolution Board assessed the injury at €8,585. Solicitor Maria Lakes reviewed the Injuries Resolution Board assessment and felt that it did not properly compensate the client for the injuries incurred. Maria instead instigated Court proceedings, and the case was brought to a successful conclusion.

Case settlement:

The case was settled on the 9th of April 2024 for the sum of €20,425. This was a great result for our client and we are proud of all the work put in by Maria and her team to achieve this brilliant outcome.

*Note: Client name changed for GDPR reasons.




Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I report a workplace accident?

    It is important to immediately take the following steps after the occurrence of an accident at work.

    • Report the accident immediately to your superior and ensure that an accident report is completed and you are given a copy of it.
    • Seek medical attention immediately and ensure that your doctor or hospital personnel keep detailed records of the accident.

    There are strict obligations on employers under the Health & Safety Acts together with other legislation to ensure that employees have a safe system of work and that employees are properly trained in the tasks that they are carrying out and that they are provided with proper equipment in the course of their employment.

  2. What to do after an accident at work?

    After an accident at work and before making a work related claim, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. In minor workplace incidents whereby you have a slip, trip or fall, you may feel as though you are fine, but what you don’t realise is that the minor injury you have suffered could develop into a bigger health issue for you. Assessing your health after an accident is a critical first step.

    Once you have had a medical assessment there are a number of steps you will follow:

    1. Report the accident to your superior

    Before making work related claims it is important that you notify your manager at work as to the accident that occurred. You need you to inform them of the injuries you suffered and the cause of the accident. It is advisable for you to seek confirmation from your superior that you have reported the accident, whether it is written or electronic.

    2. Seek legal advice from a personal injury solicitor

    Once you have reported the accident, it is important that you seek advice from a personal injury solicitor who has experience with accidents in the workplace. They can then talk you through the next steps as to what is involved when making work related claims.

    In the event that you do decide to take a personal injury claim, you are not obliged to personally tell your employer. Your solicitor can write to your employer and notify them of the claim. Some of our clients have told us that they feel that it would be better for them to inform their employer that a claim was being made and that their solicitor would be in touch. This is a matter for each client. Generally, we would advise that all communications regarding the case take place between the legal representatives.

  3. What information will my solicitor need to make a claim?

    In order for your solicitor to proceed with a personal injury claim for you they will need the following information:

    • Details of the person who caused the accident.
    • Names, addresses and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
    • Where available, photographs of the location of the accident, paying particular attention to the item or area where the accident happened.
    • Name of Gardaí/police and station where the accident was reported – names of any Gardaí who attended the scene of the accident (where applicable).
    • Medical records detailing any injuries/treatment following the accident.
    • Details of any costs incurred following the accident (keep your receipts).
    • Details of any loss of earnings and details of any future loss of earnings if you are to be out of work for a long period of time.
    • Cost of medical treatment – details of future medical treatment needed.

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