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Sharps policies in UK general practice

 

Clinical bottom line

A study of limited current applicability showed variable attitudes towards sharps safety in Scottish general practices.



Reference

J Sneddon et al. Control of infection: a survey of general medical practices. Journal of Public Health Medicine 1997 19: 313-319.


Method

This was a survey of 92 general practices carried out in a single Health Board in Scotland over a three month period in 1994. Invitations to participate were sent out, with several reminders, and a staff member was interviewed using a structured questionnaire.

Results

Of 92 practices in the health board, only 42 (46%) participated. The results regarding the use of sharps is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Percentage of practices using recommended safe practices

Recommended practice

Percent

BS7320 sharps containers used

95

Sharps containers kept off floor out of reach of children

83

Practice policy on needle resheathing

41

Practice policy prohibits resheathing

36

Written first-aid guidance for needlestick injuries

14

Record kept of needlestick injuries and other contamination

36

Staff hepatitis B immunity status known and recorded

19

BS 7320 sharps containers used on domiciliary visits

28

Comment

The utility of this report is limited by the fact that it took place in 1994, with a three-year delay until it was published. The picture it painted is probably out-of-date. The surprising fact that under half of practices in the health board participated also limits the utility of the survey.

What it does show is that, some years ago, general practices had variable attitudes towards safety regarding sharps.