Needles are things which inspire fear in many people. And being unexpectedly stabbed with a used needle sounds like something from a nightmare. But, unfortunately, the pain of the injury itself is often just the beginning.
Truth Legal was contacted by a gentleman who had suffered just such an ordeal as he was working as a hospital porter. We were able to secure him over £3000 in much-deserved compensation as a result of the incident.
Our client’s story
Richard* worked in the A&E Department of a large hospital. On the day of the incident, he was disposing of general waste contained in clear plastic bags. He was wearing protective gloves, but when he picked up one bag, he felt a sharp, pricking sensation in his finger. Richard knew immediately that he had been stuck with a discarded needle. He ripped open the bag and found a number of items which should never have been put in a general waste bag. Amongst them was the needle which had injured him.
Needles, and other ‘sharps’ waste, are supposed to be disposed of in specialised containers – exactly so that this kind of incident does not happen.
Richard showed the bag’s contents to the nurse in charge of the ward. She was so horrified that took photos and circulated the images around the hospital to raise awareness.
Left in suspense
Although deeply unpleasant, the injury to Richard’s finger was minor, and it healed in a few days. Far more serious was the question of whether the needle had been infected. And naturally Richard was worried that he might have contracted a serious virus.
He underwent several blood tests after the incident, over a number of weeks. This included testing for HIV and Hepatitis B.
But there his life was left in suspense. The results would take months to come in, and throughout that time, Richard was living with the possibility that he might have contracted a life-changing condition.
He became worried, anxious, and depressed.
Richard had had a holiday pre-booked at the time of the incident. This was to celebrate an anniversary with his partner. But all the stress about a possible infection meant he couldn’t enjoy it. And throughout the wait for his test results, he and his partner couldn’t have any sexual contact in case he passed on any infection.
It took 6 months after the incident for all of the tests to be completed. Richard had been forced to endure half a year of uncertainty about his long-term health – all because another member of staff had negligently disposed of a used needle in an unsafe way. Fortunately, Richard received the all clear.
Not the first time…
Perhaps one of the most shocking parts of Richard’s story is the fact that this was the third time he had suffered a needlestick injury whilst at working at the hospital. The first had been many years ago, but the second had only been about 2 years before the latest, and it had involved very similar circumstances.
One of the reasons that he approached Truth Legal for help is that he was furious such dangerous practices could be allowed to happen. By making a claim, he wanted to put pressure on the hospital to improve their safety procedures.
Catherine Reynolds, Head of Personal Injury at Truth Legal, was able to put together claims for both of Richard’s most recent needlestick injuries. The hospital did not dispute being responsible for Richard’s injuries. However, their initial offers for compensation were low so Catherine worked to negotiate increased awards. This resulted in offers that were fair, and that Richard was happy to accept. With the two claims combined, Richard received £5,250 in compensation.
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*All names have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of our client