A new and updated version of the PHE publication Eye of the Needle: United Kingdom Surveillance of Significant Occupational Exposures to Bloodborne Viruses in Healthcare Workers is published this month.
Available for download here.
The Royal College of Nursing has commented in the way of all other Trades Unions, to highlight the continued risk of exposure of nursing staff to bloodborne viruses from sharps injuries, with figures [from Eye of the Needle] showing a rise in staff reporting these incidents.
This is despite the availability of safety-engineered devices and new rules promoting their use, noted Public Health England in its Eye of the Needle report.
It found the number of staff exposed to bloodborne viruses via sharps injuries increased by a third from 373 in 2004 to 496 in 2013. Around 80% of the 4,830 incidents reported over the period involved doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants.
Of course, the RCN make the strong case for their members but do not make comparisons on an entirely direct level field since, as they allude to albeit obliquely, reporting rates are now considerably increased such that the reported rise rate of injury may be more apparent than real.
It is important to highlight that many NHS Trusts are still dragging their heels in the implementation of safety-engineered sharps safety devices.
If that legally required but now overdue roll-out of safety sharps were to be completed, the incidence of sharps injuries might be reduced considerably. It might also help ancillary and support staff, and waste handlers, all of whom are unrepresented in the PHE report, who suffer sharps injury from carelessly discarded sharps that find their way to waste sacks.
As we have noted previously on the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum, sharps injury to ancillary and support staff, when estimated against number of persons employed, is around 10x greater than for nurses and up to 30x greater than for physicians.
Take care, take great care!