European healthcare workers identify problems after needlestick legislation

February 19, 2014

During the fourth European Biosafety Summit hosted in Warsaw, Poland, new research was revealed that highlighted problem areas for many healthcare workers across Europe. The EU Directive on prevention from sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector was adopted in 2010, with each member state given a three-year period to implement the legislation. However, figures have suggested that there are still some issues for those working in the profession.

Results from a survey of more than 7,000 European healthcare workers has revealed a number of areas that need to be improved in the wake of the EU Directive. Although the sharps directive has improved the workplace in general, there are still concerns that some organisations are falling below the standard outlined by the recent law.

The figures suggest that a number of factors are harming the progress of the healthcare industries across Europe. A perceived lack of an explicit ban on recapping needles, thorough risk assessments, access to safety devices and education and awareness raising were all problems that need to be addressed, according to the survey.

The summit, held in the Polish parliament, found that less than a year after the implementation of the legislation, healthcare workers are still concerned about how it is being enforced. Feedback from thousands of workers across the continent found that, although the majority of nurses are seeing some progress towards meeting the directive's requirements, there is still much more to achieve.

Around 70 per cent of respondents said they had access to the safety-engineered devices - a key requirement of the legislation - however, more than a quarter (30 per cent) said they had no access to these devices.

Among the other concerns was an absence of awareness raising and training concerning the prevention of sharp injuries. According to the survey, education in how to use safety devices was also falling short and is very variable across the member states. 

It also revealed that, in general, nurses are not consulted when it comes to determining the best device for the job. The research also highlighted that the required ban on the recapping needles has not been enforced across the continent.

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