8-year-old stuck by hypodermic needle found on school playground

Needle with drop of bloodEthan Gurr likes to collect “treasures,” according to his mom, but the 8-year-old’s latest find has doctors testing Ethan’s blood to make sure he hasn’t been exposed to HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.

“I don’t want to say this to be mean, but he’s kind of a packrat,” Katrina Gurr said. “He finds something, discovers it, and he’s got maybe a box or a bag and he’s got his little treasures in there.”

Typically, it’s “cool rocks and things like that,” she added.

“It’s not uncommon to get surprises in the washer,” Ethan’s dad, Mike Gurr, said.

Ethan was walking around the perimeter of the playground Tuesday at East Elementary School when he found something unusual for his collection — a hypodermic needle. The second-grader said he stashed his discovery in his lunchbox for safekeeping.

When Ethan reached into his lunchbox a short time later, the needle poked his finger.

“Then I looked at my finger and it was on my finger,” he said Thursday.

Ethan’s younger sister told their mom after school that Ethan had the needle, Katrina Gurr said, and her son initially tried to get rid of it. She retrieved the needle, though, and began to press her son for information.

“I said, ‘Honey, it’s important that you tell me if you have been poked,'” Katrina Gurr said.

Ethan eventually showed his mom the spot where the needle had pricked his finger, and she took him to the hospital for blood tests. She also contacted the school with her concerns.

“If it is a drug needle, why is it there at the school?” Katrina Gurr said, noting that there appeared to be dried blood around the base of the needle.

Custodians are now required to walk the grounds at East Elementary to check for needles and other hazards, according to Dean Wilson, director of student services for the Duchesne County School District. The practice will soon be in place district-wide, he said.

“We have a secondary and elementary principals training (where) we will go over this as a district, not just leave it to the one school,” Wilson said.

District administrators have asked Roosevelt police to increase patrols around East Elementary, and an assembly will be held Friday to talk to students about safety, Wilson said.

“We’re going to do the best we can to keep our kids safe,” he said.

The Gurrs hope the district’s policy changes — and their decision to share Ethan’s story — will prevent other children from coming into contact with used needles at school and in other public places.

“As safe as you think your children are in a small-town school or anywhere, it’s possible they are being exposed to more than you know,” Katrina Gurr said.

The first round of test results show that Ethan is OK, but doctors won’t know if he is truly in the clear until another round of blood test are run in six months.

“You try not to think about it,” Mike Gurr said, referring to the possibility that his son may have accidentally become infected with a lethal disease, “but it’s hard not to.”

Good luck Ethan






Landowner’s anger as council refuses to remove drugs waste

Christopher Davies found used needles and drug taking equipment on his land in Rhydfelin. He has found used needles and other drug taking material on his land has hit out at the authorities for not helping him.

Christopher Davies, who lives on Heol-Y- Bryn at the top of Rhydfelin, only noticed the “dangerous waste” on his land last weekend.

When he saw there were used needles among the rubbish, he contacted Rhondda Cynon Taf Council to ask them to get rid of the waste, but he said they refused as they said the waste was on private land.

Christopher, 46, said: “I live on the side of Eglwysilan mountain. In the winter, I hardly go on the land but in the summer I usually take my grandchildren up there.

“Last Sunday, my grandchildren noticed there were children playing on the land and as it’s my land, I went up to shoo them off, which is when I noticed a tent and lots of rubbish.

“I’ve since found out from a local farmer that the tent has been there since Christmas.

“When I looked closer at the rubbish, I noticed there were used needles and tin foil and things used to take drugs.

“I didn’t want to touch any of this as it’s contaminated, dangerous waste. So I contacted the council but they won’t help me remove it.

“I pay more than £2,000 a year in council tax and they’re saying there’s nothing they can do. I don’t know what to do with it as I don’t want to touch it because it’s so dangerous.”



In fairness to the Council, they make it abundantly clear that they, as all other Councils, do not accept liability for the removal of drug waste and needles etc from private property.

They may take action against the property owner when it is believed that the public will be at risk, and really should take a rather more pragmatic approach toward needle finds on private residential property where some idiot has tossed a used needle over a garden wall.

However, for private land owners the responsibility for and cost of clearance cannot be passed to the Council or anyone else, at least unless a culprit has been found and a civil claim is successful. Some chance.




A day in the life of America’s low life catalogues a large number of needle incidents.

Here is just a few:

Thief Threatened Pharmacy Employee With Needle, Yelled “I Have AIDS”

A man who police say was caught stealing from a Pharmacy in Staten Island allegedly threatened to stab a store employee with what he said was an AIDS-infected hypodermic needle.

Frank Andolina, 47, allegedly made the threats at a CVS in Richmond Valley after he was caught putting medicine in a black backpack.



Hypodermic needle hidden inside Macy’s Lloyd Center restroom pricks shopper, $10,000 suit says

A 40-year-old shopper who claims he pricked his finger on a used hypodermic needle that was stuffed inside a toilet-seat-cover dispenser at the Lloyd Center Macy’s has filed a $10,000 lawsuit against the store.

Gene J. Summerfield suspects that an intravenous drug user left the needle in the dispenser sometime before he reached for the seat cover during a shopping trip last June 15, according to his attorney.

Summerfield pricked his middle finger on his left hand and sought medical attention, according to his suit filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

He took prophylactic medication meant to prevent HIV and Hepatitis B and C — and suffered nausea, vomiting, headaches and chills and lived in fear for an extended period that he might contract a serious infectious disease, according to the suit.


Man shot needle at victim with homemade blow gun

Oklahoma City police arrested a 25-year-old man after they said he shot his former co-worker in the butt with a homemade blow gun earlier this month.

Police said the suspect, Justin Pace, had been relieved of his duties at Smith Staffing at 3601 N. May when he started blowing needles out of a straw.

The victim told police he “felt a pinch on his right butt cheek” and found a needle shot 3 inches into his skin.

The victim was sent to the hospital to receive a tetanus shot.



Woman robs Rite-Aid with hypodermic needle

Vermont police say they’ve caught the woman accused of using a hypodermic needle to hold up a store. Investigators say Mary Graves, 29, robbed the Rite-Aid at the Springfield Plaza Monday morning.

They say the Bellows Falls woman threatened to stab the clerk with a used needle unless she got cash. The clerk then handed over the money. Police say multiple tips led them to Graves just after 8 pm Monday.



In Scotland….

Dundee mum says needles ‘still lying around’

The mother of a young girl who was jabbed by a discarded syringe has called for more to be done to deal with drug problems in her area.

Louise Kerr, 37, says nothing has changed since her 10-year-old daughter, Tia Carty, was pricked by a used needle while playing near Americanmuir Road last May.

Tia must wait for up to a year since the event before she learns for sure if she has caught anything from the needle, and her mum says it will happen again unless something is done.

Louise said: “I’ve not seen any evidence anything more is being done to tackle the problem.

“When Tia’s story was first printed, I was given assurances there would be more teams of community workers checking the hotspots for needles.

“This hasn’t been happening as far as I’ve seen. I’m worried the council isn’t interested because it feels it is a battle it can’t win.”



In England….

Southampton Crown Court heard man brandished a syringe at supermarket security guard

SHOPLIFTER produced a hypodermic syringe when challenged by a security guard outside the premises, Southampton Crown Court heard. The drama happened in the car park of Tesco in Wimpson Lane.

Prosecutor Simon Edwards said that Thomas Amos was pursued by the guard, Simon Mulliner, who told him to stop. Amos then pulled out the needle and brandished it, threatening to stab bystanders.

Mr Mulliner shouted ‘Leave him, don’t touch him, he’s got a dirty needle’.

Amos was later arrested.

Judge Nicholas Rowland heard that only two days before the incident, Amos – who had previous convictions for burglary and theft – had been given a community sentence by magistrates.

Amos, 38, of Shelley Road, Totton, admitted threatening a person with an article that had a blade or point. He was jailed for six months.

In mitigation, Charles Cochand said that Amos had panicked after the needle had fallen from a pocket and grabbed it.



And in Australia….

Nervous wait for Lismore needle-stick victim

A lecturer from the Southern Cross University is on an accelerated course of treatment to prevent hepatitis infection after stepping on a discarded syringe.

Tregeagle man Mike Evans trod on the needle as he got out of his car in Lismore’s Kirkland’s Riviera carpark on Monday

Mr Evans said his life was now in limbo as he will have to wait six months to be sure he has not contracted HIV.

“Breaking the news to my wife, well she ended up in tears,” he said. “The shock has now sort of turned to anger, so I’m going through that process of finding out bad news. “Initially I was just annoyed, and then feeling sorry for myself, but now I’m just angry that such thoughtless people are around.”

The Lismore Mayor has called on all needle users to make sure they dispose of their syringes properly.


Needle with drop of blood

Indiana health officials say the number of people in five southern Indiana counties testing positive for HIV through needle-sharing among painkiller abusers has grown by one to 27.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Friday there are 10 others with preliminary HIV-positive status.

The agency on Wednesday announced that Clark, Jackson, Perry, Scott and Washington counties had 26 confirmed cases and four preliminary positive cases.

The agency says most of those infected had shared needles while injecting a liquefied form of the painkiller Opana, a prescription drug that’s more potent per milligram than oxycontin. A small number of the HIV cases were linked to unprotected sex, which is the chief way the virus is spread.






Needle with drop of bloodThe number of young men in London injecting steroids is rising on a “regular basis” a drugs charity has warned.

South Westminster Drug and Alcohol Service said an increasing number of young male clients were seeking support for anabolic steroid use. A similar trend is likely in other UK towns and cities.

Home Office figures show 60,000 people used steroids in the UK in 2014

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it was the “tip of the iceberg” and advised gyms to supply sharps bins for needles.

Roy Jones, from the South Westminster service, said: “Our numbers are increasing on a regular basis.

“I’ve been working with steroid users for 16 years and when I first started, the guys taking them were body builders in their 30s.

Easygym have installed sharps bins in all their gyms, while Fitness First, Virgin Active and David Lloyd said some of their clubs also have them.

All the gyms said they had a zero tolerance approach to steroids and the bins were a health and safety measure for diabetic members and the disposal of razors.

We on the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum have been raising awareness of this problem for some considerable time now. Continue reading “Rising number of young men in London injecting steroids” »

Needle with drop of bloodPublic Health England says yet another healthcare worker who may have had contact with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London after returning to the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) said the worker, who may have had contact with the deadly virus in Sierra Leone, does not currently have any symptoms.

After arriving back in the UK on Wednesday, the worker was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London for assessment and they will continue to be monitored for signs of the disease.

Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s director for health protection, said: “The overall risk to the general public from Ebola remains very low.

“We are confident all appropriate public health actions have been, and will continue to be, taken to support this individual and to protect the public’s health.


Of course, we keep our fingers tightly crossed that all will be well for this individual.

More so, we continue to hope that these UK healthcare workers Ebola sharps incidents and similar events affecting workers from other countries stimulate much more the multifaceted work toward the prevention of sharps injuries in other healthcare situations.

We can only hope.



Secure sharps bins to allow injecting drug users to safely dispose of used needle and syringes have been installed in five public toilets in Belfast city centre.

The council said it took the measure due to the number of needles found by cleaners and members of the public.

The first bin was installed on the Dublin Road at the end of 2014.

Since then, four more have been put in public toilets in Custom House Square, Lombard Street, the Gasworks site on the Ormeau Road and the Antrim Road.

Well done Belfast.


Hopefully, other Local Authorities will follow suit and brave the adverse publicity to install secure sharps bins in all public toilets and in other recognised hotspots where discarded sharps are found. There will be a cost to this, but the cost of a sharps injury may be far greater and every attempt must be taken to prevent exposure to injury and possible infection.




A dozen NHS Grampian workers have successfully sued their employers after being injured by needles at work.

Staff faced months not knowing whether they had been hit with infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C following their injury.

NHS Grampian confirmed that payments were paid to the 12 staff after legal claims were lodged on grounds of stress suffered during the “agonising” wait.

While all of the workers received the all-clear following testing, undisclosed sums were agreed given their ordeal.

Exclusive figures show needlestick injuries were one of the most common personal injury claims made against the health board by staff over the last three years.

Litigation expert Julie Clark-Spence, a partner at Balfour and Manson in Aberdeen, said clients often faced months of uncertainty following such injuries.

She said: “We act for a number of individuals who have suffered needle stick injuries.

“Clients are often faced with an agonising wait for test results following injury because of potential exposure to blood-borne viruses. Many are under a great deal of stress and anxiety whilst tests are being carried out.

“Clients are subject to regular blood tests and immunisation which can take many months to conclude.”

Martin McKay, health spokesman at Unison in Aberdeen, said much work had been done to reduce the number of needlestick injuries.

However, he added that staffing shortages at the board may have contributed to the claims.

He said: “There have been vast improvements made in the past decade to reduce these injuries but incidents still occur.

“We believe the protocols put in place have vastly improved the safety of staff.”

“We have had a difficult few years at NHS Grampian and there have been well documented staffing and recruitment issues.

“Sometimes these issues may be factors in some cases.”

Strict rules govern the safe disposal of needles but the kit can become misplaced, with cleaners and laundry workers amongst those at risk.

A spokesman for the board said, if a needled had already been used on a patient, the patient would be traced and blood tests carried out on them.

The injured worker would then be offered appropriate immunisations with their blood stored for future testing, depending on the outcome of the patient’s screening.

The spokeswoman added: “We take the safety of our staff very seriously. Staff are encouraged to report all incidents and we use this information to improve safety all the time.

“We are by no means complacent and we continue to study accident reports in order to learn lessons.”



The mandatory introduction of engineered sharps safety devices was intended to reduce the rate of sharps injury.

Indeed, that has occurred but as we predicted several years ago safety sharps introduction has introduced a degree of complacency among users, particularly at the point of disposal. Data are not available to ascertain whether or not this has resulted in a consequential increase in the number of sharps injuries among ancillary staff and waste handlers. However, that increase does seem quite likely.

There are many situations during blood taking and injections where sharps injury might occur despite safety engineered devices. When a patient jumps or recoils suddenly, with agitated patients, and perhaps just being unlucky can lead to a sharps injury despite good practice.

There is evidence that a few trusts have reduced sharps training for some groups of staff presumably due to time and cost constraints, maybe through the arrogance of senior staff who will not attend training sessions, and in the expectation that safety devices have reduced the need. There may be issues also with the quality of this training, that properly focusses as much on disposal as use of sharps, this being an aspect of least concern for busy healthcare staff.

There remains an issue of staff being unfamiliar with a different type of safety sharps device when moving between employers resulting in a transient increase in sharps injury rate.

Even worse, some trusts are reported still to implement safety sharps use, apparently for reasons of costs.

Despite pressure for safety sharps starting among users, healthcare professionals and their professional bodies and later by the learned bodies and trades union groups, and through specific legislation, universal protection has not been achieved. The impetus is beginning to wane, perhaps only slightly, but that downward trend does not help.

Mandatory reporting of sharps injury incidents and near misses under RIDDOR has not been accepted by HSE, presumably because it would simply be too much work. Thus, HSE sits on its hands and the UK sharps injury legislation remains more or less on the shelf.

Perhaps the reality of costly legal action, or simply the threat of legal action, will reinvigorate sharps injury prevention among healthcare professionals, ancillary staff and waste handlers, and all of those others who might come into contact with sharps. We can but hope.


see also Sharps in the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum



The information given by suppliers, in their catalogues or on-line, can guide users or lead them far up the garden path.

So it is with this medical equipment and supplies provider advertising orange, located on the web today, Saturday 21 February 2015.



The small print associated with this offering assures the purchaser that the sack is:

  • Unique colour indicates that contents can be recycled, autoclaved or sent to landfill
  • Clearly printed with UN markings to signify clinical waste
  • Available in medium and heavy duty gauges and in a number of sizes
  • Supplied on rolls for convenient dispensing
  • Ideal for use with clinical waste bins MSC0270, MSC0271 and MSC0272.
  • Ideal for use in a first aid rooms – helps comply with HSE guidance document L74


Of course, if one of these filled sacks appeared at a recycling facility or a landfill site alarm bells would ring, klaxons sound, and lights flash as everything grinds to a standstill for clean-up and investigation. Someone, somewhere, would be for the high jump.

Going further, the supplier claims that it’s use would be ideal for use in a first aid room, where a Tiger bag could be more appropriate, and to help comply with the HSE guidance document L74.

L47 First Aid at Work. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981: Guidance on Regulations 2013. ISBM 9780717665600 is an important document though in the case of a recommendation for orange waste sacks, it is a yellow sack specified in L74. Perhaps both suggestions are incorrect, certainly for the average first aid room dealing with otherwise healthy adults and children with sprains, cuts and grazes etc.  As we know, it is essentially a risk assessment that is necessary, with in most cases will conclude that a Tiger stripe bag is most often the appropriate choice.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear!




IMG_1633There has been much publicity concerning the enforced closure by the CQC of the Merok Park nursing home in Surrey.

It is reported that conditions were little short of appalling, but high up on the list of problems, as so often, are issues with clinical waste.

The report states:

Staff (including the cleaner) had not had infection control training and there were no cleaning checklists. Staff had left soiled clinical waste in open bags in a bathroom and the outside clinical waste bin was unlocked which was a serious infection control risk.”

Clearly it is inappropriate to read too much into an individual CQC report since we did not see what the observers saw on the day of inspection. [The image is for illustrative purposes only and not linked to this CQC report or nursing home]

However, an open clinical waste bin – it should have been a tiger bag – in a patient bathroom is not unusual or inappropriate. It should be in a clean holder, secure yet in a location that is not likely to obstruct or trip users, and replaced periodically. If waste accumulated slowly, use a fresh but smaller waste sack and aim to replace daily. If that is still too much, I would support less frequent replacement as long as it not odiferous or otherwise offensive; every 2 or 3 days might suffice.

What concerns me most is the “outside clinical waste bin … unlocked which was a serious infection control risk”. Well, if you jumped inside and rolled around in the waste, perhaps it would be an infection risk. But that undermines the obvious, the cart or bin should have been locked. There is no excuse.

Now, go around any NHS establishment and there is a high probability that carts are stored outside, and in an unsecure area. If there is a lockable compound it probably will not be locked. Carts inside may have locked that are engaged, but in at least 1/3 of premised these locks will not be engaged. So too for those carts used for satellite storage. Worse, depending on the contractor and/or region, some carts will have defective locks or no lock at all.

Contractors will blame their users who deliberately break locks, but the responsibility for repair rests with the contractor. Ideally, users and contractors finding a defective lock should mark this to indicate a repair is needed, and the cart should be taken out of use until that has been completed. If extra keys are required by users, provide them, and if defective carts are delivered, reject them.


Sounds good, doesn’t it? We will all keep our eyes open for this particular problem, and bring things up to a satisfactory standard. But will it happen?

Don’t hold your breath.



US researchers are developing metal detector systems for hospital laundry systems in order to catch safely ‘lost’ equipment items and needles.

How sad that this is necessary but hospital laundry workers have a high rate of sharps injuries, as do waste handlers.







A Bronx thief who used a hypodermic syringe to threaten and rob 10 victims was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.

Angel Cintron, 41, was handed the stiff sentence for threatening his victims — one as young as 11 years old — with a needle he claimed was infected with the AIDS virus, before swiping their cellphones, iPods and other gadgets.

The syringe scoundrel went on the robbery spree in 2012 on well-trafficked E. Tremont Ave., said prosecutors.

Cintron had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery in the first degree, one count of third-degree robbery, and another count of attempting to sell narcotics.

His attorney Richard Barton told The News afterward that the bandit was a lifelong heroin addict.

He claimed that Cintron did not truly intend to injure his victims.

“He really thought of it like a scam,” said Barton, noting that prosecutors never presented evidence that the hypodermic needles were infected.

“I don’t believe he ever meant to hurt anybody.”



US judges know how to hand it out. Or, as the reporter said, “This needle bandit got the sharp end of justice.”






csiA Bangor housing association could turn to forensic science to help catch residents dumping used drug needles on a city estate.

It comes after a number of hypodermic ‘pins’ were found in the Maesgeirchen area of Bangor recently.

Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (CCG). a social landlord with 6,300 homes across Gwynedd, has now launched a pilot scheme which could see them analyse DNA found on the needles and other evidence in a bid to catch the culprits.

And it could even take action against its tenants if one of its tenants is caught dumping them.

Geraint Jones, CCG’s Neighbourhood Services manager, said: “We are always keen to work with partners to safeguard these areas and minimise the risk from needles that have been disposed of in public areas.



This is probably good for making headlines, but otherwise most improbable. It would take police action to agree access to databases that might contain, for crime-related reasons, the DNA profiles of local addicts. This is, of should be, unlikely to occur since the rules governing use of that data is highly regulated.

It’s a good idea, to track down the user, or users if needles are shared. This might bring them into the fold of public health interventions directed at reducing drug dependency, homelessness etc. But to catch someone in this situation using DNA technology, and to pile more pressure on addicts to drive them yet further underground just in the name of environmental regulation seems like a misguided approach. That is not the role of a social housing group.

Time will tell, long after the newspaper and its dramatic headline becomes tomorrow’s chip wrapper.








A passenger has highlighted a ‘security issue’ at Manchester Airport after being unable to find an accessible sharps bin for syringe.

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that a passenger has complained to Manchester Airport bosses after being unable to find anywhere to dispose of her syringe.

Catherine Gidwaney, 47, had a pulmonary embolism in 2013 which means she has to inject blood thinner shortly before flying.

But before a trip to Lanzarote, she was shocked to discover there were no sharps bins in the women’s toilet of Terminal Two to dispose of a syringe.

She resorted to asking a Boots pharmacist to dispose of it. When she later complained to airport chief executive Charlie Cornish, he replied to say there was a ‘sharps bin’ in the disabled toilets.

Continue reading “No accessible sharps bin at Manchester airport?” »

Needle with drop of bloodThere are now two British healthcare team members repatriated from Sierra Leone having suffered sharps or needlestick incidents while caring for patients in the Ebola outbreak there.

Above all, we wish those individuals well and hope that after a necessary period of observation they remain in good health.

It is an expectation that in each of the affected areas engineered sharps safety devices are in use. These can protect during disposal and, in some cases, during needle use. However, most do not protect the user during blood taking. Excellent technique is essential to prevent injury, but if a patient moves unexpectedly there is little that can really be done to stay safe.

There is one additional hope, that these cases raise still further the profile of sharps safety programs and sharps injury prevention to users and those involved in the collection and disposal of sharps waste. There are still far too many avoidable sharps injuries occurring to healthcare professionals and to that forgotten army of litter pickers and waste handlers, to emergency service staff, police and prison officers, and many others.

Let us hope that, long after these two individuals have been discharged from hospital, in good health, the circumstances of the cases are written up for more detailed review by the scientific community. That may assist in future prevention strategies, in the immediate period for the protection of those still working under such difficult and high risk circumstances in West Africa, and in the longer term by giving a boost to sharps injury prevention overall.





Birmingham_attackA man who is believed to have stabbed a woman with a needle outside Birmingham New Street station is being sought by police.

A CCTV image of a man officers said might have “important information” has been released.

The 22-year-old victim had just left the station when a man walked past, stabbing her arm in Stephenson Street. The incident occurred at about 08:30 GMT on Christmas Eve.

She was stabbed “with what appeared to be a needle”, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

He said: “Understandably, the woman was extremely distressed by this incident.”

PC Don Whyte said: “The victim had just left the station, when a man walking past her stabbed her in the arm with what appeared to be a needle. “He then walked off hurriedly, leaving his victim with a small puncture wound.” “I believe the man in the images has important information about this incident.”


This is not the first needle attack around New Street Station. If you recognise the man in the image, please help the Police and stop this madness.

To contact the British Transport Police call  0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 quoting reference MSUB/B10 of 29/01/2015. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111


see also Hunt for Birmingham needle attacker

see also Birmingham needle attacks: Police ‘unable to proceed’



Needle with drop of bloodA thief has been jailed for four years after he grappled with the security guard at a Middlesbrough supermarket.

As a result of the incident, a supermarket security guard is still anxiously awaiting blood test results after he suffered a needle injury wrestling with a shoplifter. The thief who grappled with the security officer – and later held up a small shop with a broken bottle – was today jailed for four years.


It would be interesting to know how the jail term was assessed – theft, a second theft, using a broken bottle as a weapon, and no doubt a bit of previous, all come into play. But what about that needle? It makes us sit up and pay attention, and makes a good newspaper headline too. However, we are well aware of the anguish that may follow any sharps injury, and in this situation the risks are surely greater since the assailant is an addict.

How does the judiciary think of a needlestick injury infected maliciously? Do they see it as a minor physical would leaving barely a mark, or still less risky if 6 months later there is no evidence of consequential infection?  And what about the possibility of psychological ham, for the victim and perhaps their family?

What do you think?




Needle with drop of bloodThe Midlothian Council sharps health & safety document is excellent and worth a review when updating your own local authority documentation.

It is brief and to the point, clear and concise, and covers all the bases. Regrettably it does not give contact information, give contact details for the appropriate Council department that might arrange collection and disposal of needles and syringes, or list the addresses of local Accident & Emergency Departments. And the document takes a bit of finding, buried deep in the Council website at Home/Downloads/Education and learning/Education policies/Policy guidelines/Health and safety/Health and safety.

Download here.

Its a rather stark contrast between such a carefully crafted document and the advice given by the Council to those who might find some discarded sharps. Since the public must act as the eyes and ears of the Council, having clear information on the Council website about who to contact is invaluable if discarded sharps and other drug litter is to be cleared quickly and safely.

But go to the Midlothian Council website and bang your head against the proverbial brick wall. Continue reading “Local Authority sharps health & safety document” »

In a long-overdue move, the depth and extent of which has yet properly to be seen, HSE is to carry on with – or is that pick up the threads of? – its programme of local authority waste management services inspections after a report found that 14% of councils were ‘non-compliant’.


There is much to be done as standards of safety, including hygiene and biological safety matters, have slipped noticeably as margins are sliced ever thiner.

Regrettably, it is those important and not insubstantial but diffuse hygiene and waste management activities of litter picking, clinical and hygiene waste services areas and cleaning in public lavatories, Local Authority care homes, hostels etc that are unlikely to be considered for inspection. Perhaps HSE is simply unaware that these activities exist, or unaware of their impact. Most likely, it is simply the intention to aim for the low hanging fruit and concentrate of routing kerbside collections, recycling services etc, since this might deliver a bigger impact on limited funding.

But accidents and near misses continue to happen, and these cannot be overlooked, intentionally or otherwise, by HSE, by the Environment Agency and Environmental Health Officers. These are dangerous jobs, and the health & safety of employees should be paramount. If the regulators don’t make an effort, its hard to see how the employers might be encouraged to do so.




Needle with drop of bloodBy chance, we have come across a note circulated by the 412th Medical Group across the US Edwards Air Force base concerning safe disposal of personal sharps.

No doubt the base has a medical unit, and I presume that this will deliver most inpatient and outpatient/GP care for servicemen and their families, and possibly for some civilian workers also.

So the note is surprising. Do they need to be told not to put used needles etc into the trash? The information is brief and to the point (no pun intended). It gives good advice, and is obviously intended to enhance health & safety by prevention of sharps injury from carelessly discarded sharps.

But I can’t help wondering why this is necessary. Presumably, there have been one of more incidents, injuries or near misses.

There can’t be that many insulin dependent diabetics among the workforce, and probably far fewer than in the general community since insulin dependent diabetes might preclude Air Force employment.

So just what are the rest of them injecting?

Perhaps it is legitimate and perhaps not. If the latter, I do hope that those concerned are not allowed to do anything important, like fly planes, drop bombs or carry guns!



Needle with drop of bloodParents sue hospital over illness 7-year-old allegedly contracted from needlestick

GRETNA, Louisiana – The parents of a 7-year-old who allegedly contracted an auto-immune disorder after being stuck by a contaminated needle while in the care of a local hospital and healthcare providers are suing.

Joseph A. Vizzini and Jessica Vizzini, individually and on behalf of their minor child, filed suit against Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Lisa De Fusco MD, Michael Saucier MD and an unknown lab technician in the 24th Judicial District Court on Oct. 9.

The Vizzinis claim that their child was a patient at the Rothchild Ochsner Pediatric Clinic on Oct. 11, 2011 when an unknown lab technician accidentally stuck herself with a needle and proceeded to use the same needle – that was then contaminated – to draw blood from their child. The plaintiffs allege that following the incident their child has developed several serious health conditions, including Reynaud’s Disease, arthritis, ethromalalgia vascular disease, autoimmune disorder and migraines, they attribute his exposure to the lab technicians blood via the contaminated needle. The Vizzinis contend that treating physicians have been unable to provide an explanation for their child’s medical problems.

The defendant is accused of medical malpractice.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff.



We consider the risks of any sharps injury are of Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and/or HIV infection. In reality, there are many more bacterial and viral infections documented to have been transmitted by sharps injury, and one or to “funnies” including protozoal infection though these latter tend to occur only in laboratory settings.

In this case, however, the advocates seem to propose the most remarkable array of consequences in conjunction with a possible sharps injury event.




Needle with drop of bloodAn interesting report from Kevitt and Hayes of Corporate Health Ireland and the Occupational Health Department of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, respectively.

BACKGROUND: Sharps injuries create a high volume of occupational health (OH) workload in the health care setting. The deadline for implementation of the European Sharps Directive was 11 May 2013.

AIMS: To compare the epidemiology of sharps injuries reported in a large Irish teaching hospital in 2008-10 with those reported between 1998 and 2000.

METHODS: We compared data from electronic and paper OH records of sharps injuries reported between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2010 with those from a previous study of sharps injuries reported between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2000.

RESULTS: A total of 325 sharps injuries were reported in 2008-10, compared with 332 in 1998-2000 (P = 0.568). Hepatitis B immunity in sharps injury recipients in 2008-10 was 87% compared to 86% in 1998-2000 (P = 0.32). Glove use was reported in 80% of reported injuries in 2008-10 compared with 74% in 1998-2000 (P = 0.32). In 2008-10, 49% of injuries occurred during disposal or following improper disposal of sharps, compared with 42% in 1998-2000.

CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant change in the epidemiology of sharps injuries reported between 2008 and 2010 compared with 1998-2000. Further education in standard precautions, safe disposal of sharps, the use of safety-engineered devices and the benefits of hepatitis B immunization is needed.

Kevitt F, Hayes B. Sharps injuries in a teaching hospital: changes over a decade. Occupational Medicine (2015) in the press

Continue reading “Did the European Sharps Directive make a difference?” »

Needle with drop of bloodIn the UK, we consider it a relatively straightforward process, to dispose used sharps into a compliant sharps bin and have these collected for approved incineration.  But not everyone finds this so straightforward.

Chat on the UK-Muscle Body Building Community web forum centres around those who are, I presume, self-infecting illegal anabolic steroid products.   Such is the law in the UK, import and sale of these are similar drug products is illegal though their use by individuals is not. We need not concern ourselves here with the former matter, but must acknowledge that the administration of these products is highly dangerous, especially when used in excess and/or administered from shared vials with shared needles and syringes.

Leaving aside the considerable risk of infection with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, the latter now increasing at an alarming rate among gym users/bodybuilders, and HIV, there is the question of disposal.

Safety is essential; many gyms have responded by placing secure sharps bins in the toilets while those using standard sharps bins must ask themselves if they are facilitating the retrieval of used sharps for re-use. Despite sharps bin provision, many gyms report problems of drug litter in changing rooms and toilets, placing other gym members and staff/cleaners at particular risk.

Though this group may be accepted into needle exchange schemes, providing new injection equipment and sterile swabs, antiseptics etc, there are many ‘responsible’ individuals who will continue with this dangerous drug use but who wish to dispose of their used needles responsibly. Continue reading “Disposing used sharps” »

Needle with drop of bloodA female police officer has suffered a ‘small’ puncture to her hand after being wounded with a hypodermic needle in Cheltenham.

The officer was hurt while arresting a man on suspicion of trying to break into cars.

It’s unknown whether the wound was a result of the resistance by the suspect or whether it was an accidental consequence of the struggle.

The suspect was also taken to hospital.

The incident happened on Douro Road in Cheltenham.

We hope that there will be no adverse sequelae to this incident and wish the lady well.




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!



HBlood_Spatterealthcare Workers Still Vulnerable to ‘Splash and Splatter’

In an informative piece in the Conference News section of Medscape, Caroline Helwick reports on a presentation by Amber Mitchell from Vestagen Technical Textiles, in Orlando, Florida, on the hazards and infection risk of splashes and splutter to healthcare workers.

Blood splash exposures to the mouth and eyes of waste handlers, and thus to healthcare housekeeping and ancillary handling healthcare wastes, is a far greater problem than is generally recognised.

At the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum we make no apology for banging on about this. We have been trying for more than 8 years now to raise awareness of this potent infection transmission route. We will not change from that position in the years to come.

Handling clinical/healthcare/offensive/sanitary wastes, call them what you will, requires care at all times, to prevent exposure by sharps injury, contamination of pre-existing cuts, grazes and eczematous lesions, and via the mouth or eyes. In these latter cases, contamination may be direct, or indirect with contamination occurring from contaminated soiled, PPE or unwashed (inadequately washed) hands.

The health, safety and welfare of support staff is of prime importance, and hopefully Amber Mitchell’s work will help get the ball rolling, to raise awareness of the need for higher standards of occupational safety and hygiene that goes far beyond provision of a pair of gloves.




Recycling and waste management business Veolia is investing £1 million in cyclist safety equipment for its fleet of refuse vehicles.

Some good news for a change, especially for cyclists.

The TurnAlarm system, from Vision Techniques, will be fitted to all refuse vehicles, in a bid to improve cyclist safety. Veolia is also specifying the system for all new vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

TurnAlarm delivers an audible and visual warning to approaching cyclists, with high-intensity LEDs flashing from the side of the vehicle and an audible warning that the ‘vehicle is turning’.

Veolia’s system also includes a module to measure speed, preventing the alarm from activating if the vehicle is travelling at more than 10mph. Blind spot signs will also be displayed on the rear and near side of each vehicle.

The company is also rolling out cyclist awareness training for its drivers, which will be completed by September 2015.

See more at: http://www.transportengineer.org.uk/transport-engineer-news/veolia-invests-1m-in-cyclist-safety-equipment-for-refuse-fleet/65902/


Well done, Veolia. Others please follow.




Nearly three quarters of sharps purchased by trusts in England in 2014 do not have safety mechanisms designed to prevent needlestick injuries

Nearly three quarters of sharps purchased by trusts in England in 2014 do not have safety mechanisms designed to prevent needlestick injuries, research by Unison suggests. In response to an inquiry from the union, the NHS Supply Chain revealed that only 28 per cent of sharps devices ordered by trusts were safety devices. This is despite an EU directive introduced in May 2013 that says employers must implement preventive measures to protect healthcare workers from needlestick injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive estimates that as many as 100,000 sharps injuries, which can expose staff to risk of blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis, occur among healthcare workers annually.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: ‘100,000 injuries each year is far too many, causing health workers to worry about possible long-term ill heath, and causing deep distress. ‘Health staff work in frantic and highly stressful environments. It is crucial their equipment provides them with adequate protection,’ she added.

Most sharps pose safety risk to staff. Nursing Standard. (2014) 29(7), p.10

Latest Shooting Up report focuses on the changing nature of injecting drug use

The 12th annual report on infections among people who inject drugs (PWID) in the United Kingdom – Shooting Up – has been published by Public Health England.

PWID are vulnerable to a wide range of infections – including those caused by viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, and bacteria such as botulism and group A streptococci – that can cause significant morbidity and mortality. The report examines the extent of infections and the associated risks among PWID under six headings:

Hepatitis C levels are still high

Continue reading “Shooting Up: updated information concerning infection in UK drug users” »

Needle with drop of bloodThere have been increasing numbers of reports concerning attacks using a hypodermic needle as a weapon.

Presently, Gateshead police are investigating as woman is stabbed with needle in what is described as “a terrifying assault”.

Officers have stepped up patrols in the Newbury Avenue area of Gateshead following the bizarre and frightening attack

A woman was assaulted when a man bumped into her and struck her with a suspected needle. The incident happened at 7.50am, on Saturday, as the 27-year-old victim walked down an alleyway in the Newbury Avenue area of Gateshead.

The suspect bumped into her and walked off, leaving the woman with a sharp pain in her side. She then discovered an injury consistent with a needle stick, and attended the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead for treatment. She has since been released.

Northumbria Police are investigating.

Detective Inspector Dave Swinburne, from the force’s major crime team, said: “This is quite an unusual incident but has obviously left the victim incredibly shaken.

“We are carrying out further enquiries to trace the man responsible.

“I’d urge anyone who may have been in the area at the time and passed the man to contact us.

“We have extra officers in the area to provide reassurance to residents and I’d urge anyone with concerns to speak to them.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, extension 69191, quoting log number 669 11/10/14 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


see also Hunt for Birmingham needle attacker