A Survey of the Management of Needlestick Injuries From Incapacitated Patients in Intensive Care Units
Burrows, L A
Anaesthesia 2010 Sep; 65(9): 880-4
The Human Tissue Act 2004 and Mental Capacity Act 2005 resulted in a change in the management of needlestick injuries sustained from incapacitated patients. It appears unlawful to test for blood-borne viruses without a patient's consent for the sole benefit of the healthcare worker. This survey of intensive care units within England, Wales and Northern Ireland investigated how needlestick injuries from incapacitated patients had been managed within the previous year. Of the 225 intensive care units surveyed, 99 (44%) responded. Sixty-two (62.6%) reported a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker from an incapacitated patient. Thirty-six (64.3%) patients were tested for blood-borne viruses without consent. Sixteen (25.8%) patients tested positive for blood-borne viruses. Only 19 (30.6%) healthcare workers took post-exposure prophylaxis following the injury. These results show that needlestick injuries from incapacitated patients are common and that the majority of patients were tested for blood-borne viruses without consent.
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