A new device that destroys syringe needles immediately after use, rendering them harmless, has been launched today at a UK nursing conference.
The Sharps Terminator®, which destroys the needle shaft in a single-handed action leaving the user with only the plastic syringe, has the potential to significantly reduce the number of needlestick injuries reported by healthcare workers every year in the UK, delegates at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Conference in Harrogate heard.
It is estimated that around 100,000 needlestick injuries occur each year, but as many as 60–80% may go unreported, making it impossible to estimate the true extent of the problem.
According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), at least 48% of nurses during their working life will have been injured by a needle or sharp that had previously been used on a patient.
Most needlestick injuries occur soon after the needle has been withdrawn from the patient, so by totally eliminating the needle directly after use, the Sharps Terminator® removes the immediate risk of a needlestick injury to the healthcare worker and others who may be injured during the disposal process.
In 2010 the European Union introduced a new directive (Council Directive 2010/32/EU) to prevent injuries and infections to health care workers, which must be implemented by all healthcare providers in the UK by May 2013.
The introduction of The Sharps Terminator® supports the recommendations of this directive as it ensures that healthcare providers are able to do the following:
Implement safe procedures for using and disposing of sharp medical instruments and contaminated waste
Provide sharps disposal equipment as close as possible to the assessed areas where sharps are being used or found
Prevent the need to recap the needle which is soon to be banned
The lightweight, portable, battery powered Sharps Terminator® operates via a single-step process that is extremely simple to use and works with a wide range of needles, including regular intravenous and butterfly needles.
Once the needle is withdrawn from the patient, the healthcare worker simply inserts the needle into The Sharps Terminator® and holds it for three seconds.
As the needle body completes a circuit between two angled copper electrodes, resistance from the needle creates sufficient heat to destroy the metal portion of the needle from the tip to the hub.
The Sharps Terminator® then cuts the plastic “hub” above the needle so that no metal is left on the syringe.
Finally, the debris from the needle falls into a clean-out tube at the base of the device where it is exposed to UV light to eliminate contaminants.
The remaining plastic syringe is no longer a sharp and can be disposed of in a regular medical waste container.