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Short report
Implications of the EU Directive on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector on procurement decisions
  1. Mark Santillo
  1. Correspondence to Mark Santillo, Department of Quality Assurance, South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Torbay Hospital, Lawes Bridge, Torquay TQ2 7AA, UK; mark.santillo{at}

Statistics from

A study of presentations of low molecular weight heparins

A sharps injury is defined as an incident that causes a needle or sharp object to penetrate the skin.1 Needlestick injuries are the most common cause of sharps injuries and pose a serious risk to healthcare workers. Current UK numbers of needlestick injuries are grossly underestimated due to under-reporting and no coordinated national surveillance programmes. It has been estimated that 100 000 needlestick injuries are reported in the UK each year but these numbers are likely to be an underestimate.2–4 The Royal College of Nursing reported that 48% of nurses polled (n=4407) had experienced a needlestick injury during their career5 and more than 1 million needlestick injuries are estimated to occur in the European Union each year.6

Injuries from contaminated needles carry a risk of infection from more than 20 blood-borne pathogens, including hepatitis B, C and HIV. The risk of transmission of infection from an individual needlestick injury is small but because instances are so common the potential for infections is large.

EU Directive 2010/32/EU7

The introduction of EU Directive 2010/32/EU in 2010 aimed to prevent injuries and reduce blood-borne infections to healthcare workers from sharp instruments including needles. The EU Directive was published in June 2010, and is required to be implemented as national law in all EU countries by May 2013.

Following the publication of the Directive there are many implications for hospital pharmacists and support staff as well as other healthcare professionals. The issues will be difficult to address in pharmacy technical services units and radiopharmacies as well as for reconstitution and drawing up of drug solutions on wards. In the more clinical setting and with potential risk of needlestick injuries causing blood-borne infections, including HIV and hepatitis, then the issues are clearer cut, any measures taken to reduce these risks need to be encouraged. …

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