A new law protecting healthcare workers from infectious diseases as a result of injuries from sharp instruments such as needles has come into force in Europe.
Peter Ellingworth, chief executive of the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), said: “I am delighted that the new law has now come into force, giving healthcare workers the protection they deserve. Up until now too many infections have come as the result of avoidable injuries."
He added: "In order to support the NHS [National Health Service] to comply with the new laws the medical device industry has developed a whole range of technologies that can help to eliminate this type of injury. It is crucial for the safety of healthcare professionals that the use of these becomes standard practice across the NHS."
He closed by saying: "I would like to thank the Safer Needles Network for their work to bring together a variety of stakeholders and ensure that this important issue got the attention it deserved.”
The Safer Needles Network is a UK-based organisation whose primary goal is to help people who are concerned with needlestick injuries.
The new regulations require healthcare employers and employees to:
· avoid the unnecessary use of sharps;
· use safer sharps, incorporating protection mechanisms;
· prevent the recapping of needles;
· use secure containers for safe disposal of medical sharps; and
· provide health and safety information and training for staff.
The everyday work of healthcare staff puts them at risk of serious infections from more than 30 potentially dangerous pathogens, including hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV, through injuries with contaminated needles and other sharps. The majority of these sharps injuries are preventable with the provision of effective training, safer working procedures and safety-engineered medical devices that shield or retract the needle/sharp after use.
It is estimated that there are around 100,000 sharps injuries in the UK each year and four workers have died as a result of occupationally acquired HIV from a sharps injury in the NHS.
The new regulations took effect on May 11, 2013, and similar new legislation will also apply across the whole of Europe to implement the mandatory measures in EU Council Directive 2010/32 /EU. Existing legislation has largely been ignored or misinterpreted, and as a result proved ineffective.
About the ABHI: The ABHI is the industry association for the medical technology sector in the UK. ABHI’s mission is to champion the benefits and use of safe and effective medical technologies to deliver high quality patient outcomes. With over 250 members, ABHI leads the advocacy of the industry in order to advance access to medical technology. Our membership includes some of the leading multinational businesses in the sector in the UK right the way through to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).