If a needlestick injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward

Needlestick injuries, often occurring in healthcare settings, can pose significant health risks, including the transmission of infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. If you have suffered a needlestick injury, particularly due to workplace negligence or lack of adequate safety measures, we can help.

If you've been injured due to clinical negligence or lax safety measures, compensation could cover the cost of medical treatments, loss of earnings and any other costs or losses you incur.

You can make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.

What is a needlestick injury?

A needlestick injury (sometimes called a percutaneous injury or sharps injury) is a wound caused by a hypodermic needle, syringe or other sharp implement or similar piece of medical equipment, accidentally puncturing the skin.

A 'sharp' can also refer to any medical equipment that could puncture the skin, including scalpels, lancets, scissors, pins, staples, clamps, razor blades and glass.

As well as causing bleeding, swelling and tenderness at the site of the puncture, sharps contaminated with an infected patient's blood can transmit over 20 diseases.

With 1,000s of needlestick negligence claims each year, you are not alone

A estimated 100,000 needlestick injuries are reported each year. The true number is likely to be far higher.

According to NHS Resolution, there were 2,600 negligence claims for needlestick injuries in 2012-22 (resolution.nhs.uk).

Although procedures are in place to help prevent needlestick injuries (also called sharps injuries), a recent report by Public Health England (PHE) warned that:

"healthcare workers continue to be at risk of exposure to blood-borne viruses through occupational sharps injuries".

If you decide to make a needlestick injury claim, your medical negligence solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you need to move forward.

If you are looking for information on needle injuries, see: needle injuries (nhs.uk).

Am I entitled to make a needlestick injury claim?

To claim compensation for needlestick injury, your solicitor must prove that:

  • the care provided to you was below the acceptable standard, and
  • this inadequate care resulted in your harm.

Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.

How long do I have to claim needlestick injury compensation?

You usually have 3 years to make a needlestick injury claim. The timelimit starts from the date you discovered you were injured by negligent care (the date of knowledge).

For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before the child turns 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years later?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for a needlestick injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the severity of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

Needlestick injury compensation calculator

Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

Updated April 2024 Compensation Calculator v3.04

General damages

General damages are awarded for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College (judiciary.uk) and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

Special damages

Special damages is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your needlestick injury. Compensation can include lost earnings, bonuses and overtime, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.

These damages will also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as antibiotics, blood tests and psychological support.

Read more:

A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

How do needlestick injuries happen and who is most at risk?

Most needlestick injuries are preventable and they occur when needles and sharps are not correctly disposed of.

Some sharps injuries are the result of clinical negligence. The majority of injuries result from accidents at work and negligent work procedures.

Despite hospitals having rigorous disposal procedures in place, healthcare workers are the main group at risk, due to the sheer number of hypodermic syringes and sharp instruments used.

65% of their injuries take place during clinical procedures in wards, A&E departments and operating theatres.

Hypodermic needles are sometimes discarded in public places, such as parks, public toilets and alleyways. Anyone coming into contact with used needles is at risk.

How can the risk of needlestick injury be reduced?

Managing the risk of needlestick injury will depend on the environment:

  • Workers should be provided with appropriate training on the handling and disposal of needles where they may be at risk of contact.
  • Where sharps bins are provided for the disposal of sharps these should always be used.
  • Sharps bins should be emptied and replaced regularly to prevent over-filling.
  • People working where there is a risk of coming into contact with discarded needles should be issued with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Discarded needles should never be held without adequate protection.
  • Workers should never be expected to put their hands into places they cannot see, such as inside drains or in a pipe U bend.

Other preventative measures include the provision of disposal containers and night-time security by local councils in known problem areas.

Medical manufacturers are being urged to replace standard hypodermic needles with safer needles which retract or are destroyed after use.

What should I do if I'm injured by a needlestick?

Needlestick injuries can have serious consequences if untreated. Even if a needlestick injury inflicted by a medical professional is not itself negligent, failure to appropriately treat the injury may amount to negligence.

The following procedures should be carried out to reduce the risk of further injury:

  • Encourage the wound to gently bleed, ideally holding it under running water
  • Wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap, but do not scrub
  • Do not suck the wound
  • Dry the wound and cover with a waterproof plaster or dressing
  • Seek urgent medical advice as medicines are available to help fight infection

It is likely that blood tests will be taken, with follow ups in 3, 6 and 12 months to allow viruses to show up on the tests.

The transmission of infection depends on a number of factors, including the person's natural immune system.

Although the number of injuries each year is high, only a small number cause infections leading to serious illness.

Needlestick injury case study

A 32-year-old woman was awarded compensation of £6,000 for a PTSD from a needlestick injury.

During the course of the claimant's employment as an ambulance technician, she was called to assist a patient who had collapsed at home. When she arrived she took a blood sample with a click pen device.

The device was defective and as she took the blood sample, her left index finger was cut. Immediately after, her colleague informed her that the patient was HIV positive.

The claimant was then taken to the hospital and, after being examined by a consultant, she was told that she had a 1 in 300 chance of developing AIDS as a result of the needlestick injury.

The doctor prescribed a course of treatment which involved taking 18 tablets per day for a one month period.

The medication had a catastrophic effect on her. She suffered significant side effects, one of which caused her to be admitted to the hospital and was unable to work for 3 weeks.

Her home life was seriously affected and she was not even able to kiss her partner or 2 small children.

These side effects lasted for 6 months during which time she suffered a lack of sleep from the stress. She became depressed and was prescribed anti-depressants.

After the 6 month period elapsed, a blood test revealed that she was clear of HIV/AIDS.

The medical expert who examined her for the court proceedings concluded that the psychological problems should resolve within 15 months, although she would remain vulnerable to stress for up to 5 years.

Compensation settlement

It was alleged that the Ambulance Service caused the psychological injury by providing her with defective medical equipment.

On receipt of the summons, the Ambulance Service denied liability and the case went to court. The judge found in the claimant's favour and awarded her £6,000 for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity (PLSA).

Clinical negligence claims

Needlestick injuries are usually categorised as clinical negligence. Click on the icon below for more information.

No win, no fee needlestick injury compensation claims

With no win, no fee, you can claim needlestick injury compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

How we can help you with your medical negligence claim

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director