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September 20th 2021

Personal Injury

Hospital cleaner’s seven months of stress and fear show how vital it is to dispose of used needles properly

Jane Woodcock

Jane Woodcock

Head of Personal Injury

Hospital cleaner’s seven months of stress and fear show how vital it is to dispose of used needles properly

A hospital cleaner has spoken out about the “horrible, worrying and emotional” seven months waiting for test results after sustaining a needlestick injury at work.

A hospital cleaner has spoken out about the “horrible, worrying and emotional” seven months waiting for test results after sustaining a needlestick injury at work.

The woman was emptying a clinical waste bin in a hospital when a needle protruding through the bin liner went through her trousers and pierced her leg.

After suffering the accident at work the cleaner had to have several blood tests, including for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and also had to have a Hepatitis C booster.

However, it took over half a year from the incident for her to get the all-clear – in which time she suffered psychological issues which “affected everything at the time”.

Client ‘saw blood and panicked’ after suffering accident at work

“I felt it when it happened as it went through my trousers and I knew straight away I’d been scratched,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I saw a bit of blood and I panicked. One of my colleagues then sent me across to A&E to get it checked out.

“It was a very worrying and emotional time during those seven months waiting for the test results to come in; I was left just wondering what was going to happen. Each day I’d wake up and think ‘am I still alright?’

“It was pretty horrible at the time because you’re worried in case you’ve caught something. I was quite down and just wanted the answers.

“It was more the fear and the worry of what was going to happen at the end of it all.”

Accident at work compensation secured after hospital admitted breach of duty

The cleaner instructed Hudgell Solicitors to make an accident at work compensation claim and our Personal Injury team helped secure a four-figure damages settlement after the hospital admitted liability for the incident and a breach of duty.

The case highlights just how important it is to dispose of used needles properly, as the outcome could have been a lot worse but thankfully all the woman’s tests came back negative.

The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), state that used needles should be placed in a secure container, such as a sharps bin, which did not happen in this case.

Our lawyer in the case said: “The HSE’s regulations set out that an employer should ensure that safe procedures for working with and disposing of sharps and needles are in place.

“They require clearly marked and secure containers be placed close to the areas where medical sharps are used. Instructions for staff on safe disposal of sharps must also be placed in those areas.

“The regulations also say that training provided to health professionals must cover the safe use and disposal of medical sharps.

“However, in this case, a lapse from a health professional meant the needle was just placed straight in a bin liner and caused our client months of unnecessary stress and fear after her leg was pierced.”

Workplace accident leaves cleaner ‘nervous’ in room where injury at work occurred

Our client said it was “such a relief” to finally get the all-clear after months of “going backwards and forwards” getting tests and waiting for results.

She admitted that she is still nervous and worried when moving bin liners at work in case it happens again, but it has not stopped her from working in the same hospital cleaning job.

“Because I’m still working on the same area, I still panic a bit when I go in the area where it happened,” added the woman.

“There are particular rooms where I’m more careful and the room itself where it happened I am much more careful and double check before I move anything.

“I’d been there 21 years and this was the first needlestick injury. The needles are usually put in the sharps bins.

“Somebody had said to me ‘why don’t you put a claim in’ and at first I wasn’t going to bother, but after a couple of days I changed my mind because the unknown was stressing me out.

“I thought ‘why should they get away with it’ in the end, because it was somebody’s fault at the end of the day as they should have been more careful and should have put the needle straight in a sharps bin.

“Hudgells were great during my claim and really helpful and I was happy with the outcome in the end.”

Related Articles

NHS advice on disposing of used needles or sharps 

How to make an accident at work claim

Other clients we have helped make an accident at work compensation claim

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