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EC Directive on safety- engineered devices: safer for nurses and pharmacists?

Awareness of the impact of Council Directive 2010/32/EU for all healthcare workers is imperative, so that correct decisions are made with regards to the purchasing and supplying of devices, as well as complying with existing legislation

Debra Adams RN PhD Independent Consultant Advisor/Head of Infection Prevention and Control (Midlands and East); NHS Trust Development Authority, Birmingham

In 2010 the European Council identified the need to provide greater protection to all healthcare workers (HCW) in hospital and healthcare settings who are at risk from sharps injuries. Council Directive 2010/32/EU provides a legal framework for the management of sharps and needlestick injuries (NSI) within the EU member states. By 11 May 2013, all EU member states were expected to have incorporated the Directive into national law. The UK complied by transposing the Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 into national law. The regulations assist healthcare organisations with their transition into a safer working environment for those at risk of sharps injury.

Sharps injuries are common among HCW and must not simply be accepted as an occupational hazard as many are preventable. On evaluating the safety risks to staff working in UK NHS hospitals, the National Audit Office1 identified that 17% of accidents reported were associated with needlesticks or sharps. Although a sharps/NSI may appear insignificant to some, they can result in possible infection from more than 20 potentially dangerous blood- borne pathogens, the most common being

hepatitis B, C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Furthermore, the psychological effect of a sharps/NSI on a healthcare worker can be significant: such as depression, relationship matters, panic attacks and the inability to work.2

Therefore, awareness of the impact of Council Directive 2010/32/EU for all HCW is imperative, in order that correct decisions are made with regards to the purchasing and supplying of devices, as well as implementing and complying with existing legislation.

Inoculation injuries

Inoculation injuries can be subdivided into two categories. Percutaneous exposure occurs as a result of a break in the skin caused by a sharps/NSI contaminated with blood or body fluid. Mucocutaneous exposure occurs when body fluids come into contact with open wounds, non-intact skin such as that found in eczema or mucous membranes, such as the mouth and eyes.3 Between 1997 and 2011, there have been 20 recorded cases of HCW sero- converting to hepatitis C in England and


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