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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

EUROPE: EU Issues Stringent Sharps Regulations


Practice Business (05.20.2013) Aids Weekly Plus

The National Health Service (NHS) Confederation has issued new regulations designed to guide NHS employers and staff of European Union (EU) nations in the safe use and disposal of sharp medical devices. The regulations—which apply to all public and private employers, employees, and contractors in the EU healthcare sector—took effect May 11. Even if medical staff do not acquire infection from an unintentional needle stick, “sharps injuries” cause “stress and psychological trauma” for staff and can result in work restrictions and lifestyle changes. Sharps injuries also can result in transmission of HIV or hepatitis. The Health Protection Agency reported that sharps injuries comprised 17 percent of healthcare workers’ injuries. Occupational exposure accounted for 17 HCV cases between 1996 and 2009. Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS European Office, stated that employers’ organizations, the NHS European Office, the Health and Safety Executive, and trade unions collaborated closely to develop workable, sensible regulations. The rules address training and employee information and aim to minimize harm and prevent injuries in the field through the safe use and disposal of sharps. The full regulations, “Guide to the Proposed Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work (Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Healthcare Sector) Regulations, 2013,” are available at


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Information in this article was accurate in May 21, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.