UK must learn from US on sharps injuries, campaigners say

NHS efforts to reduce needlestick injuries must draw on experience from the US, where they have fallen by a third in a decade, safety campaigners believe.

Injection: UK can learn from US work on needlestick injuries
Injection: UK can learn from US work on needlestick injuries

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is consulting on how to introduce a 2010 EU directive on preventing sharps injuries into UK law.

US group Safe in Common, which works to reduce needlestick injury risk, believes the consultation offers a chance to learn from the US experience.

Since the 2000 Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, needlestick injuries have dropped by a third in the US. Safe in Common chairwoman Dr Mary Foley told GP the consultation should be used to ‘review the pioneering efforts of the US and get it right first time’.

‘If the HSE can build upon the foundation of regulations that the US has instituted and learn from our errors, a new standard will be set in the expectation of safer working conditions for healthcare personnel across the globe,’ she said.

The UK must pay attention to ‘secondary’ sites, such as consulting rooms. ‘This has been one of the biggest challenges in the US experience,’ she said.

The UK should provide the safest, simplest devices for all procedures, regardless of cost, inspect sharps environments every two years and monitor trends in injuries, she added.

The HSE consultation closes on 8 November 2012.

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