“Sharps” Injuries: What Are the Risks?
“Sharps” is a term that is often used in the medical field to refer to needlesticks, scalpels, and other medical instruments that are used to penetrate the skin. When these medical instruments are improperly disposed of, they can become a serious biohazard — even a small nick, cut, or puncture wound could have devastating consequences.
This is because used medical instruments can potentially carry several different types of bloodborne pathogens, such as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and more. According to a report from the United States Department of Labor, researchers estimate that “5.6 million workers in the healthcare industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens.”
Anyone who works in or with a medical facility is at risk of sustaining a sharps injury, including medical professionals, custodians, waste management workers, and more. There are several procedures in place for correctly disposing of used medical instruments, and if those procedures are not followed, this could constitute negligent behavior on behalf of several parties. Proper procedures for disposing of and containing sharps include:
- Discarding used sharps into their appropriate containers as soon as possible
- Disposal containers must be sealable, puncture-proof, and leak-proof on all sides
- Disposal containers must be upright, accessible, and regularly emptied
- Used sharps must be properly labeled according to OSHA biohazard regulations
Contact a New York Workplace Injury Attorney
Medical facilities and professionals have a legal obligation to properly label and dispose of any materials that may be a potential biohazard. If you or someone you know was hurt due to the improper disposal of a medical instrument, contact Hach & Rose, LLP to discuss your rights and legal options. We will sit down with you to discuss your case when you call (212) 779-0057 or fill out a contact form on our site to schedule a free and confidential consultation.