Sharps work injury settlement

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Our client, a 58-year-old woman from East Ayrshire, contacted us via her union, Unite, following a workplace needlestick accident she suffered in July 2019 while working as a domestic at Ayr Hospital.

The background

The claimant was working her regular shift and was in the process of damp dusting a patient’s bed-table when, despite wearing gloves, she sustained a sharps injury from a needle that had been inadvertently concealed under a laptop the patient had placed on his table.

Our client immediately took the needle to a nurse who disposed of it. A colleague advised her to go to A&E.

The consequences

At the Accident and Emergency department a doctor advised our client that she would need booster shots and that she should visit the occupational health department. Two days after the needlestick incident, the claimant was sent for booster vaccinations and she also underwent a number of blood tests over numerous days.

In the period between the tests and receiving the results, our client became anxious that she might have contracted a blood-borne illness and her mental health and relationships became adversely affected as a result.

The settlement

Our client felt that the accident would not have happened if the patient, who had been self-administering insulin, had been supplied with a suitable sharps bin so that he could safely dispose of the needles. She contacted Thompsons’ work injury solicitors in Scotland and we submitted a claim to NHS Ayrshire and Arran hospitals. Liability was admitted on a without prejudice basis.

The NHS trust made a sharps injury compensation settlement offer of £1,312.50. This offer included a net reduction of 25% on the basis of “contributory negligence”, with the trust arguing that the claimant failed to wipe the table without removing all of the items on it, contrary to her training. This offer was rejected on our client’s instructions.

Next, £1,700 was offered, this time with a net deduction of 15% deduction for contributory negligence. Again, this was rejected on the claimant’s instructions.

Later, £2,040 was offered, with a 15% net deduction for contributory negligence. Again, this was rejected on the claimant’s instructions. Finally, £2,470 was offered, with a 5% net deduction for contributory negligence. This was accepted on our client’s instructions. Settlement was completed in July 2020.

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