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12th December 2016

Safe sharps – Management in Dental Practice

One of the topics that CQC inspectors will assess during inspections is sharps management. This particularly relates to The European Council Directive 2010/32/EU (the Sharps Directive) which was introduced to prevent injuries and blood-borne infections to healthcare workers, including dental team members, from sharp instruments, such as needles.

Risk Assessment

Dental practice owners must ensure that a risk assessment for sharps injuries has been carried out and that there are systems in place for the prevention of injuries from sharps. If traditional reusable local anaesthetic systems are still in use then a written policy needs to be in place, outlining the prevention of sharps injuries. Safe sharps systems must be adopted where practical. Regulation 7(6)(c) of the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) requires systems to dispose of contaminated waste safely. Dental clinical staff should be trained to work safely with the sharps equipment regularly used in the practice in order to reduce the risk of injury. It is important to place sharps containers as close to the clinician as possible and ideally wall mounted. Appropriate training should be given to all staff involved in sharps management. Sharps containers must not be placed at floor level.

Injury management and prevention

In the event of a sharps injury, staff must be aware of the process to obtain immediate access to medical advice and possible post-exposure prophylaxis. There may be certain situations where the member of staff requires counselling and emotional support. It is important that the manager or employer records the injury in the accident book and that the recording is stored in the confidential personnel folder of the member of staff, and any remedial training given once the cause of the injury has been identified. CQC inspectors will look for risk assessments as well as visible evidence such as a flowchart for the management of sharps injuries. They will also look for equipment which helps prevent sharps injuries such as needle blocks and single use safety syringes.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Raj Majithia

Dental Specialist M.Clin.Dent, FFGDP, BDS, LDSRCS, MJDF (UK), DPDS

Raj is in General Dental Practice in London. His other current posts are Associate Dean of Postgraduate Dentistry at Health Education England – London where he is responsible for remediation of dentists in difficulty, quality assurance of Dental Foundation training practices and assessment of Dental Foundation equivalence for overseas qualified dentists. Raj has been the Crisis Management in Medical Emergencies Tutor and Postgraduate Dental Tutor at Northwick Park Dental Education Centre and West Middlesex Hospital.

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