Healthcare workers 'still at risk of infection from sharps injuries'

Medical Government/ NHS related news

A new study has highlighted the ongoing risk of exposure to bloodborne viruses through occupational sharps injuries among healthcare workers.

The report from Public Health England warns that healthcare workers continue to be in danger of exposure to infection through sharps injuries, despite the fact that safety-engineered devices to prevent these injuries are now available.

“Healthcare workers remain at risk from HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to sharps injuries, despite efforts to counter the problem.“

Occupational exposures to a bloodborne virus increased among healthcare workers from 373 in 2004 to 496 in 2013. Around 78 percent of exposures involved a percutaneous needlestick injury, the majority of which were sharps injuries involving a hollow-bore needle.

This is despite the EU Sharps Directive in 2010 and the UK Sharps Regulations in 2013 decreeing that safe working conditions must be created for healthcare workers to help reduce the risk of sharps injuries, including the provision of better training and measures to reduce staff fatigue.

Dr Fortune Ncube, head of the bloodborne virus department at Public Health England, said: "It is a disappointment that we still continue to see injuries to healthcare workers occurring after the procedure, in the period prior to and during disposal. These injuries are entirely preventable."

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