A survey conducted in association with the British Association of Dental Nurses* in 2014, found that 51.2% of respondents had received a needlestick injury at some point in their career, with 60% of those saying they’d received more than one.
It’s vital that safety procedures are put in place in all dental surgeries, especially when you consider that the risk of infection following a needlestick injury is estimated to be 1 in 3 for HBV, 1 in 30 for HCV and 1 in 300 for HIV**.
By following some simple tips you can ensure your safety and reduce the number of needlestick injuries that occur.
- Always dispose of used sharps directly into an approved sharps container - It is essential that your sharps are segregated and disposed of correctly based on their medical contamination. The lid colour and label on the container relates to how the waste should be treated and disposed of.
- Where possible, place the sharps container at the point of use - This avoids the need to walk anywhere with a needle, which creates higher risk of an injury occurring.
- Do not re-sheath needles - When the Health & Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 came into place, the recapping of needles was banned. The purpose of this is to prevent needlestick injuries from occurring when removing the needle. You should use a safer sharps device to remove needles from your syringe.
- Do not leave sharps lying around - Sharps injuries are still known to occur as a result of sharps being left lying around, so it’s extremely important that they are disposed of immediately after use.
- Report all sharps injuries immediately - If a sharps injury does occur, you need to ensure that you:
- Encourage bleeding from the wound
- Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof dressing
- Seek urgent medical advice
- Report the injury and ensure all details are reported in your practice’s accident book
Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of sharps injuries, from trainee staff, to practice owners who hold overall legal responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff.
While it’s not possible to remove all sharps from a dental practice, it is entirely possible to assess the risk correctly, use devices which limit the risk of injury and dispose of all sharps in a safe manner.
The practice will be held responsible for the safe and legal disposal of sharps, even after they have been passed onto the waste carrier collecting them. That’s why it’s important to work with comprehensively trained waste disposal experts, who will advise on the correct products that comply with both the UK and EU legislation, and who will be able to safely and securely dispose of sharps.
Another quick and simple way to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries is to use innovative solutions such as InSafe syringes – a safety system providing comprehensive protection for clinical staff from the beginning of the procedure through to the disposal of the needle.
InSafe's syringe and sharps box ensure that the contaminated needle is never exposed except during the actual injection. It feels and aspirates just like a traditional syringe so there will be no interruptions to the dental practice when introducing the protective system. When the injection has been administered, the protective sleeve locks securely into place over the needle, protecting clinical staff and patients when not in use. The needle can then be safely disposed of using a sharps container. Specially developed sharps disposal bins are designed for such waste and comply with all EU and UK regulations and directives, with companies such as Initial Medical then providing a dependable and safe, collection and disposal service.
*1216 British Association of Dental Nurses responded to the survey in August 2014, from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. 99% of respondents were from the UK and 1% from the Republic of Ireland.
**For healthcare workers worldwide
For further information please visit www.initialmedical.co.uk or Tel 0800 731 0802.