After what seems like a never ending lead in period, May 11, 2013 is nearly here and we all need to think about what we need to do to comply with EU Council Directive 2010/32/EU, more commonly known as the EU Sharps Directive
I have been aware of this ever since it came out of Brussels in 2010 and lots of people have written lots of words about it – but I have waited till we get something concrete before joining in, and that “something concrete” came out last week.
The EU Directive will be implemented into UK Law by Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 and if you employ someone using a medical sharp or if you use them yourself you need to read Health Service Information Sheet 7 (HSIS7).
I’m going to talk about this from the point of view of phlebotomy (There’s a surprise) but the regulations apply to anyone who uses a medical sharp so please feel free to share this with any doctors, dentists, nurses, med students, HCA’s etc that you know (I think the regulations probably cover chiropodists too)
‘Sharps’ are needles, blades (such as scalpels) and other medical instruments that are necessary for carrying out healthcare work and could cause an injury by cutting or pricking the skin.
The regulations only apply to people working in healthcare but I think they should form a best practice guide to anyone using a medical sharp whether in healthcare or not. So if you take blood, wherever or whenever you do it you ought to abide by them.
Don’t think “I’ll read it later” don’t flick through it, read HSIS7 and find out what it’s all about.
Download it from this link http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsis7.htm, and put it on your phone, or your tablet, or your laptop.
If you are an employer you’ll need to make sure that you comply with them, and if you are an employee make sure that you understand what your responsibilities are and what measures should be in place to protect you.
When you are provided with safer sharps
You must be trained how to use them properly when they are introduced – it might feel different or awkward at first but persist and practice, they are after all, primarily for your own protection
There are two other useful pages on the HSE website to help you deal with the introduction of these regulations
Sharps Injuries – What you need to know
Sharps Injuries – What you need to do
If you have been trained by Phlebotomy Training Services Ltd I don’t think much in “What you need to know” will come as a surprise, but “What you need to do” needs a careful read and you need to think about the implications of it:
- Are all the necessary risk assessments in place and up to date?
- Have you got a phlebotomy policy in place and does it match with your risk assessment?
- Is your needle stick injury (NSI) policy up to date and does it incorporate the new requirements in the Regulations to give the injured party access to prophylaxis?
Employers now have a duty to ensure that employees have immediate access to medical advice, to offer post exposure prophylaxis or other appropriate medical treatment, and to offer counseling if appropriate
- Are your procedures for the disposal of clinical waste and used sharps appropriate, clearly defined, and fit for purpose?
- Are appropriate processes in place to review all of your policies and procedures at regular intervals?
- Can you reduce the use of medical sharps? If not you must provide and use safer sharps i.e. sharps that include an appropriate safety device.
- Is there a safer system of working than the one you currently use?
- Has everyone who needs it got access to the information required by the regulations, are they aware of: the risks of a sharps injury, their relevant legal duties, what constitutes good (and bad) practice, the benefits and drawbacks of vaccination, and of the support available in the event of a NSI
- Has appropriate training been delivered? This training must cover the correct use of safer sharps, the safe use and disposal of medical sharps, what to do in the event of a NSI and the employers arrangements for health surveillance and other procedures.
- Is training given to new staff members?
- Is refresher training given regularly
- Does everyone routinely follow standard precautions for the prevention against infection with blood borne viruses.
- Does everyone know which sharps injuries should reported to the HSE
I think that overall these regulations get the balance right and I think they will help to protect everyone from the risk of infection by a Blood Borne Virus.
If you have any comments or if you want any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me or see www.phlebotomytraining.co.uk