Midwives must do more to comply with health care sharps regulations
A recent inspection initiative by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE, 2016) aimed at gauging compliance with regulations seeking to prevent injuries from health care sharps in the NHS has revealed a general failure to properly apply the requirements of the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013.
Sharps or needlestick incidents are one of the most common causes of injury to staff, including midwives, in health care and they carry a serious risk of harm through the transmission of blood-borne infection (NHS European Office, 2013). Sharp injuries occur when a sharp instrument such as a needle, scalpel or stitch cutter penetrates the skin. If the sharp instrument is contaminated by blood, transmission of infection is possible (NHS European Office, 2013).
The HSE has long been aware of the risk to health service staff from sharps incidents and has taken action for a breach of health and safety laws following health care sharps injuries. In R v Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust  (Unreported, October 8), an NHS Trust pleaded guilty and was fined £12 500 with £9000 costs when a trainee phlebotomist, who was taking blood from an infected patient, unmonitored, caught her wrist on the needle.
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