• Hospital exposed to two needle stick injury claims

    Two Employees awarded €10,000 each against Waterford General Hospital

    THE ERKAL CASE

    Facts of the Erkal Case

    • Ms Erkal a cleaner, suffered a needle stick when removing a mop head.
    • She did not use the procedure in which she was trained, which was to use the tabs on the mop handle to remove the head.
    • The cleaner said she had been trained and to visually inspect and change the head of the mop before removing it.
    • Hospital staff stated that needle sticks were a problem in the hospital.

    Judgement: –

    Judge Barry Hickson stated the needle on the floor and was not disposed of correctly. He was satisfied that there was negligence on behalf of the hospital as someone had used the needle and dropped it on the floor. However, there was also a case of contributor negligence on behalf of the cleaner as she had not removed the head of the mop as she was trained to do.

    Damages were assessed at €10,400 and reduced by 25% to €7,800, due to the cleaners’ contributory negligence. (Erkal v HSE: Waterford Circuit Court, February 2016)

    THE DURAND CASE

    Facts of the Erkal Case

    • Ms Durand a cleaner, suffered a needle stick when cleaning the toilets.
    • When she attended the toilets for the second time that day there was tissue on the floor, when she went to pick it up she felt a needle stick in her hand.
    • There were no sharps bin in the toilet.
    • The cleaner said she was given sharps awareness training and was warned never to pick up a tissue from the floor with her hand and never to put her hand where she could not see.
    • She also stated that in hindsight she should have poked the tissue out from behind the pipe.
    • She said there was a near miss reporting system in place and she had reported seven near misses.

    Judgement: –

    Delivering judgment, Judge Barry Hickson said one had to be sympathetic to the hospital, which would “need eyes in the back of its head” to deal with this type of thing. However the place was untidy and the cleaner was put at risk. The responsibility for organising the public toilet rested with the hospital. He awarded the injured cleaner €10,000. (Durand v HSE: Waterford Circuit Court, March 2016)

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