In a 2003 survey, it was reported that a staggering 94 per cent of practising surgeons in the UK have either been personally affected by a needlestick injury (NSI) or have seen a colleague experience one. The Royal College Of Nursing also reported last year that the pressures of the pandemic and lack of training accounted for a 50% rise in sharps injuries.
UK based smart med-tech innovator NeedleSmart aim to change this statistic. NeedleSmart has designed the world’s first end-to-end vaccination and safe needle destruction system aimed at reducing the 100,000 needlestick injuries (NSI) to NHS workers in the UK each year and 3 million globally.
Of the 100,000 reported cases of NSI, NHS healthcare workers in the UK are the most affected profession, with 500,000 NSI in Germany and more than 1 million NSI in the USA. They are estimated to cost each NHS trust £500,000 each year and an estimated £127 million across England. This is not to mention the impact it has on staff absenteeism, the cost of bringing in replacement staff and legal litigation to NHS trusts, which are already under increased pressure with the pandemic.
To achieve this the Knowsley-based MedTech disruptor have entered into an exciting new innovation partnership with the world-renowned Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, one of Europe’s leading paediatric healthcare institutions with a unique dedicated innovation centre focused on solving real world problems faced day to day. The first phase of that innovation partnership will work on a safety and needlestick injuries (NSI) reduction programme as part of its clinician and patient safety enhancement. The project aims to impact, reduce and eventually prevent the 100,000 NSI that occur every year to NHS healthcare staff.
In its wider remit, NeedleSmart is also working with 15 NHS trusts across the UK as part of the nationwide pilot, where its focus is shared between safety enhancement, carbon reduction and sustainability. This programme is breaking new ground on the art of the possible with regards to medical waste disposal resulting is direct carbon savings as part of the NHS sustainability initiative.
Alder Hey is widely recognised for its co-creation and adoption of new innovative technologies and boasts the largest hospital-based Innovation Centre in the UK with 25+ full time innovation experts working out of a 1000sqm Innovation Hub in the heart of the hospital. Through this alliance, Alder Hey will work directly with NeedleSmart as it brings its multi-faceted hardware and software solutions to the healthcare markets.
Alder Hey will work shoulder-to-shoulder with the team at NeedleSmart in a co-development plan that consists of three phases:
- Clinician and patient safety enhancement
- Sustainability to recycling pilot
- Clinical workflow and data transactions
I with them good luck with their studies, and indeed would support and and every initiative aimed at reducing the incidence of sharps (needlestick) injury. Regrettably, some additional points are essential:
- Though devices like /needlsmart have been around for years, they do need a power supply and regular maintenance
- What is the risk of injury when used without care?
- Will the Hawthorne effect be responsible for an initial decline in sharps injuries that in the long term is unsustainable?
- Will a Needlesmart device be available at the point of use, which is proven to be the preferred option for safe disposal?
- Claims of reducing incineration costs by managing needles to leave just a plastic syringe of substantially lower risk is a weak argument. Syringes may well contain residues of blood or pharmaceuticals that may have a significant environmental impact. Don’t think for a moment about recycling and recovery as high temperature controlled incineration is mandatory. In some ways, this splits one waste stream into two.
- What about other sharps? Glass, scalpel blades etc – no opportunity here to get away from the use of sharps bins !