According to NHS experts, an ingenious new device will not only help save lives, but could also save the NHS GBP160 million every year. Approximately 100,000 UK health care workers are affected by needlestick injuries annually, each one potentially exposed to number of deadly diseases including HIV and Hepatitis B and C. It's not just the risk of transmission that is a huge problem; healthcare workers - and their families - suffer great emotional distress whilst they await the results of blood tests, often taking as long as up to a year.
Michael Korn, an industrial design student at London's Royal College of Art, decided to look more closely into the issue as part of a healthcare design project. Through the College's Helen Hamlyn Centre, Korn was paired with medics from St Mary's Hospital, spending weeks observing ward practices.
The result was a complete redesign of the paper-pulp trays used by nursing staff and a completely new way of using them. Korn's invention, called StickSafe, incorporates a special safely feature that allows one-handed safe use of needles. The main feature however enables safe separation of the needle from the syringe. The latter means vastly improved usage of sharps bins, which also brings with it large cost savings.
"We have carried out a robust economic analysis of StickSafe and have found that, if the entire NHS takes it on board it will save up to GBP160 million a year," said Brian Winn, head of the NHS's National Innovation Centre. "Everyone benefits - the staff, the NHS and ultimately the patient"
Professor Anne Marie Rafferty CBE, Dean of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London, added: "With the Health Protection Agency recently conducting examinations into occurrences of needlestick injury, the potential contribution of this innovative device couldn't be more timely."