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RSPH issues report on infection control during 'special procedures'
The Royal Society of Public Health has published a detailed report, titled Skins and Needles, which reviews the infection hazard associated with tattoos, cosmetic piercings, electrolysis and acupuncture - generically referred to as 'special procedures'.
Systems of control of the potential risks vary across the UK and beyond; among other recommendations, the RSPH calls for all UK health systems to review current arrangements.
The report investigates the infection control risks of these procedures and highlights the need for additional procedures, such as dermal fillers, to be added into legislation. It also cites the results of a poll with a representative sample of 2000 members of the UK public, which found that:
- Nine in 10 (90%) respondents said that people who carry out special procedures should be legally required to hold an infection control qualification
- A similar percentage (92%) believe that an infection control qualification should be a legal requirement for individuals administering fillers
In terms of the infection control risk, a third of respondents (30%) were unaware that they could report any concerns about cleanliness and hygiene to their local council, and 5% of respondents said that they wouldn't use the same technician again, for reasons including issues of hygiene. Several respondents highlighted that they had experienced infections as a result of their special procedure.
In the last decade, there has been a big increase in the numbers of people having tattoos, piercings, electrolysis and acupuncture. All four procedures involve piercing the skin and therefore pose a potential infection risk. There have been recent outbreaks of infection associated with tattooing and piercing in the UK and all four procedures have been linked to allergic reactions.
The legislative environment has struggled to keep up with this evolving environment, and despite some parts of the UK taking steps towards improving how these procedures are regulated, there remains no standard legal requirement for technicians delivering these procedures to hold an infection control qualification. There is also no legislation covering other equally invasive treatments, such as dermal fillers.
Based on a national survey of people who had at least one special procedure in the previous five years, of those who reported having had a negative side effect, one in 10 required medical treatment. The research also found that the most important factor which influenced where they had their special procedure was the skill of the technician, followed by the cleanliness of the premises and recommendations by previous clients.
The rise in antimicrobial-resistant infections, which are already estimated to claim at least 50,000 lives each year across Europe and the US alone, also emphasises the importance of minimising infection arising from special procedures, says the RSPH, which is calling for:
* All UK health systems to follow Wales with a requirement for an infection control qualification as part of licensing
* Health systems in England and Scotland to explore appointing Chief Environmental Health Officers
* Infections linked to special procedures to be included in the list of notifiable diseases that must be reported to local councils or local health protection teams
* UK Departments of Health, local councils, RSPH and other stakeholders to raise awareness with the public about the checks to make when choosing where to have special and non-surgical cosmetic procedures
You can download the report at:
4th July 2019