Increase in sharps injuries


In the past month there has been a marked increase in the number of sharps injuries reported, with incidents occurring due to drug ampoules shattering upon opening (with different drugs) and disposing of contaminated sharps.

Whilst it may sound simple, please remember best practice:

  • sharps must be disposed of immediately into the correct bin, so keep the bin close to you
  • keep your hands out of the way of the opening of the bin to prevent stabbing your fingers

A number of basic principles also apply:

  • the use of sharps within a moving vehicle should be avoided where possible
  • use safety engineered devices where appropriate e.g. safety cannula
  • well-fitting disposable gloves should be worn for handling sharps for both use and disposal. Should an accidental injury occur, the wiping effect of the needle passing through the glove can reduce the risk of virus transfer
  • sharps must not be passed directly from hand to hand and handling should be kept to a minimum. They should never be handed to another member of staff, the public or the patient
  • the disposal of sharps is the responsibility of the user. Sharps must not be left for others to clear away
  • sharps should normally be discarded in a complete unit (e.g. needle attached to syringe)
  • sharps should be discarded using a single handed technique. Do not hold the sharps container in the other hand and do not ask someone else to hold it. The bin should be placed on a flat surface
  • sharps should never be re-sheathed.

If you are injured, you should immediately encourage bleeding from the wound, wash the area thoroughly with warm running water and soap and cover with water-proof dressing.

Treatment needs to be undertaken at the time of the injury and not at the end of the shift and should always be carried out by staff at the nearest A&E or minor injury unit. After the initial assessment and any required treatment, staff must then contact occupational health for any follow up treatment/assessment, including blood tests. Please also complete a Datix report at the earliest opportunity. For more details please see the Trust’s safe practice guidelines on East24 or the IPC manual on stations.

Published 19th July 2014 

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