If your skin has accidentally been punctured by a hypodermic needle, scalpel or other sharp medical device, you are the victim of a needlestick injury. Many needlestick injuries are preventable by following Health and Safety legislation and procedure. If an employer fails in their duty of care then they are liable to pay compensation.
Needlestick injuries usually occur because a needle has been incorrectly disposed of in the wrong type of container. The proper place to dispose of a used needle is in a bin with solid sides, known as a sharps bin, but if someone fails to follow procedure and disposes of a needle in a plastic bag, it poses a risk for the person handling the bag as the needle may puncture the bag and pierce the skin of the handler.
Sometimes needles are left as litter in public toilets, on stairwells and in alleyways. This poses a risk for those who have to clean these areas: if they have not been given appropriate training and equipment for handling needles and other sharp implements, their employer is failing in their duty of care and putting them at risk.
Nurses, doctors, dentists, NHS staff and patients are particularly at risk of a needlestick injury, however other groups of people such as cleaners, police officers, refuse collectors, prison officers and park keepers are also at risk.
According to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing, 48% of nurses admitted to having been stuck by a needle, scalpel or other sharp medical implement which had been previously used on a patient. 45% of nurses reported that they had not received any training on safe needle use.
Effects of a Needlestick injury
The main risk posed by a needlestick injury is not necessarily the wound caused, but the potential for transmission of blood-borne viruses (BBVs) such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. As such, a needlestick injury can cause extensive psychological trauma including stress and depression for long periods of time. A victim of a needlestick injury can be subjected to long and stressful courses of hospital tests, during which time their minds are full of worry.
If you have been a victim of a needlestick injury, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.