Needlestick injuries cost the NHS over £4m between 2012 and 2017. You may be wondering, what even is that? It is, something entirely avoidable.
According to NHS Resolution, 1,833 incident claims for needlestick injuries were received between 2012 and 2017. Of these, the 1,213 successful claims cost the NHS £4.1m.
The figure is probably higher than this, as hundreds of claims still remain open, and it is widely speculated that many needlestick injuries go unreported.
What is it? A needlestick injury or ‘sharps’ injury is an incident, which causes a needle, blade (such as scalpel) or other medical instruments to penetrate the skin.
The main risk from a sharps injury is the potential exposure to infections and diseases. This can occur when the injury involves a ‘sharp’ that is contaminated with blood or a bodily fluid from a patient.
These injuries cause stress and fear, as medical professionals must wait sometimes several months before the results of potential transmission of blood-borne viruses (BBV) show up.
These blood-borne viruses can be very serious, and some of the most concerning are; Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
At risk are employees and others working in health and social care, those who directly handle sharps, but also those who may inadvertently be put at risk when needles are not stored or disposed of correctly.
Safe-T is a device that could potentially eradicate needlestick injuries. The globally patented device features a spring and this enables a needle to be automatically retracted once it is injected into the patient, meaning it is never seen again after injection.
Russell Maudsley, a former chemist and founder of Safe-T, spoke to The Manufacturer about the innovative device.
He said: “With Safe-T, you never take the needle out of the patient. It automatically retracts from the injection site and it is then locked into our device. That is the key.”
Needlestick injuries incur devastating costs; emotional, compensational, and potentially life-changing.
He continues: “Every time you have a needlestick injury you need to be assessed and analysed medically, to find out whether you have contracted anything.
“The problem is, you inject the needle into the patient, and why do you do that? Because you don’t know what the patient might have.”
He explains the needle is then withdrawn and often covered with a plastic case, which he say is “not safe – this is why there is at least 100,000 needlestick injuries a year.”
If a needle is covered with only plastic – which is common practice – after it is taken out of a patient, and a nurses thumb for example slips and gets pricked by it, the nurse could’ve contracted a virus the patient may have.
Bringing back production to the UK
Maudsley is beginning production in the UK in the first quarter of 2019, having previously manufactured in China, and plans to produce tens of millions of devices in the coming years.
After scraping all devices that have already been produced in China, he is bringing back his production to Shropshire, as the need for quality control on a device with such serious consequences means he needs a one in a million fail rate.
He explained: “The reason I have brought everything back from China, is when you construct this device, you need a spring as this enables the retraction. I need to automate the assembly and this Chinese company would not do that.
“We had to analyse them in the UK and some of them are not fit for purpose and, I can’t do that.”
He concluded: “Each one needs and will be photographed digitally, so we have then traceability records of every single one.”
He explains that the NHS and many global health services have expressed interest in the potentially life-saving device.
This is a tool that could prevent something on the surface quite harmless. It is only when the potential problems of needlestick injuries are highlighted that it becomes a clearly very serious issue, which could, with Safe-T be potentially eliminated.
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