Needlestick Injury Claim *
Needlestick injury claims * refer to an incident whereby the skin is penetrated by a needle or other sharp object which has been in contact with blood and other bodily fluids. A needlestick injury * (also known as a sharps injury *) is an unexpected event, just like other personal injuries *. It is a common workplace injury in the healthcare industry but can also happen to refuse collectors, tattoo artists, cleaners or the general public if they come in contact with a needle that is left in a public area.
Needlestick injuries can lead to the transitions of blood-borne diseases, therefore the people who have been injured by the needle are at risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HBV) and other infectious diseases.
Needlestick injuries at work *
Needlestick injuries * are most common amongst healthcare professionals and most common during night shifts where fatigue and workload can have an impact or when less experienced people are carrying our certain jobs. These injuries can occur in the following situations during their working day:
- When drawing blood
- When administering injections into the muscles or into the veins
- When performing any procedure where sharp objects are in use
- Improper needle recapping
- Improper storage or disposal of sharp objects, such as needles
- Lack of personal protective equipment
In the healthcare environment, the hospital may be found liable for your injury in cases where:
- Personal protective equipment was not available or provided
- Where disposal areas for such objects are inadequate
- Where workers were not given correct training on use and/or disposal of needles and other sharp objects
Other occupations that are at risk from needlestick injuries * are:
- Refuse collectors handling refuse bags that contains a needle, it can pierce the bag and then, in turn, the hand of the refuse collector.
- Tattoo artists using the tattoo needle
- Cleaners may come into contact with a needle or sharp object during the course of their work
- Council workers tasked with cleaning public areas, if not careful may be subject to a needlestick injury when cleaning.
In all scenarios, the HSE (in the healthcare sector) or employer (in other industries) should have taken reasonable steps to ensure that needles and other sharps are disposed of safely, ensure that there is a system in place for storage and disposal and in turn reduce the risk of needlestick injuries *.
Psychological Injury *
Studies have shown that the mental health consequences of needlestick injuries on those affected can be compared to the same psychological trauma associated with road traffic accidents, for example. Following the injury, people have been known be effected psychologically which can have an effect on relationships and the persons work life.
With these types of injuries, test taken to confirm whether the patient had indeed contracted a disease can some time to confirm. In these cases, the personal injury claim * may be delayed and in the interim, the patient must wait. This wait has been known to have an effect on the person’s mental state as they are left in a state of constant worry following the incident.
Injured by a Needle – Steps to Take
If you are injured by a needle or other sharp object it is advisable to do the following:
- Do not touch the wound with your bare skin – wash the wound with running water and soap or antiseptic liquid immediately and allow the blood to flow freely – without scrubbing the area too hard.
- Once dried, cover the wound with a plaster to avoid further infection.
- Seek medical attention straight away either by your local GP or head to the nearest A+E department to be seen as they will be best placed to advise you on any medical treatment you may need.
- Where the injury occurred due to the negligence of another person and you are pursuing a personal injury claim * you are advised to contact a solicitor.
Even though may notice that the wound will heal on its own, in some cases, fairly quickly, you should also have a series of blood tests taken to check if you have contracted any diseases from the needle.
Any employees who will be working with or around needles should be adequately trained in their handling and disposal. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the people tasked with these jobs are adequately trained. This can greatly reduce the risk of injuries being sustained as they will know what steps need to be taken in order to correctly use the objects. When employees are aware of Needlestick injury * protocol they are more likely to take extra care to ensure that injuries are not sustained. This can prevent injuries for both the workers and patients who are receiving treatment. This training should be provided by employers and should be appropriate for the work that is to be carried out.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is one of the most important aspects of any job as it helps to ensure the health and safety of employees at all times. An employer is obliged to provide this equipment to those who need it. This equipment it includes footwear, clothing, glasses, gloves and facial protection. Although the employer is required to provide this equipment it is up to the employee to ensure that they are wearing it while carrying out their work.
Adequate Disposal Facilities
Bins for sharp objects and hazardous materials are a necessity in the healthcare industry. In order to prevent overfilling these bins should be emptied and replaced on a regular basis. These bins help to prevent injuries as needles will be disposed of in a safe manner. It is important that these bins are marked as sharps bins and are always used for the purpose intended and other domestic waste should not be placed in these bins.
Common Injuries and Infections
- Tenderness of the affected area
This is an infection of the liver which is caused by the hepatitis C virus. This can cause swelling and scarring of the liver tissue and in some cases, this can lead to liver damage. This infection is commonly associated with Needlestick injuries * as it can be caused by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person. This can be associated with reusing needles and failing to clean and sterilise equipment that is to be used. Many people may be unaware that they have contracted this infection as symptoms can be hard to identify. Hepatitis C has four stages known as the acute stage, chronic stage, compensated cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis.
Some common symptoms of these four stages include;
- Loss of appetite
- Flu-like symptoms
- Stomach pains
This is an infection of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus. It can cause swelling and damage to the liver. Flu-like symptoms are commonly associated with this infection but they may not develop for some time meaning that many people are unaware that they have been affected. This can also be caused by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person as a result of using contaminated needles. This is very infectious and can easily be passed on to another individual. In some cases, this can cause a long-term illness to develop. The number of people developing Hepatitis B is declining each year as people are becoming more aware of the dangers associated with this and are also taking the necessary steps to ensure their health and safety. Common symptoms of hepatitis B include nausea, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite and jaundice.
- Lack of training
- Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Failing to use clean equipment
- Incorrectly disposing of needles and other sharp objects
- Using contaminated equipment
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
To talk in more detail about any aspect of this topic, you can contact our injury and claims solicitors on 01 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your Needlestick injury claim *.
With over 30 years’ experience, Tracey Solicitors ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand.