Needlestick injury claims


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A needlestick, or “sharps” injury, occurs when a person’s skin is punctured by a sharp medical device, such as a needle, blade or a scalpel.

Most needlestick injuries happen when needles aren’t disposed of properly in a sealed biohazard bin, but instead disposed of improperly or carelessly. Exposure can happen in public places such as public toilets or parks, but at most risk are healthcare workers, waste disposal workers, cleaners and public service workers such as police and prison officers.

If you have suffered a needlestick injury then you could be entitled to compensation.

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What are the impacts of a needlestick injury?

The impact of a needlestick injury is not just the immediate bleeding and/or swelling or pain – there is also the potential for diagnosis of various blood-borne illnesses or infections and the emotional trauma and distress that accompanies that – this is all factored into your claim, along with any financial impacts the accident may have, such as time off work or medical treatment or care requirements.

There are thought to be more than 20 diseases that can be contracted from a needlestick injury, the three most serious and life-changing are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Only 4 cases of fatality as a result of needlestick injury have ever been reported, but we know that it is often the psychological and emotional impacts of waiting for test results that have the biggest impact on an individual – being faced with the possibility of life with an incurable illness can cause high levels of stress and fear.

What should an employer have in place to avoid a needlestick injury?

Employers of any workers in any industry or work type where there is a risk of needlestick injuries have a duty of care to their employees and should maintain site security and provide personal protective equipment (PPE), for example, suitable protective gloves.

Healthcare providers are probably at most risk of injury due to their working environment. They should be provided with proper sharps bins, be properly trained in disposal, the bins should be regularly replaced to avoid overspill or contamination and be disposed of correctly and securely.

It’s not only health and social care professionals who are at risk of a needlestick injury though due to the prevalence of drug misuse. A needlestick injury can happen in any place at which drug abuse happens – creating a hazard for the general public, property maintenance workers, cleaners, gardeners, etc. If you come across a needle which may have been used, please call the council for its removal. Do not touch it yourself unless it presents an immediate threat to society, particularly children – in which case the best option may be to cover it and stay close to it until it is properly removed.

What to do if you sustain a needlestick injury?

If you or somebody you know has been exposed to a used needle or blade then this must be reported following RIDDOR – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – even if the injury seems minor.

Always rinse the injury with soap and water but do not scrub. Seek medical attention immediately – drugs are available to stop infections being transferred and tests should be run to determine if the victim has caught any illnesses from the needle or blade.

How to make a claim

Most needlestick injuries at work are avoidable and preventable and occur as a result of your employer breaching their legal duties and by holding your employer accountable you will be ensuring they follow health and safety procedures in the future, avoiding further harm to others.

If you or a loved one has suffered a needlestick injury, even if you have not been diagnosed with an illness or disease, then you may be entitled to compensation as a result of the emotional and psychological trauma and distress you will have suffered as a result. Please get in touch with us to discuss your claim.

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