Needle scare: Kym McMillan with her two-year-old twins Marli and Willow.
Needle scare: Kym McMillan with her two-year-old twins Marli and Willow. Blainey Woodham

Murwillumbah tot's needle scare

TWO-year-old toddler Marli McMillan faces blood tests every three months after a tangle with a health centre’s Sharps Disposal Bin, which was left sitting on a floor holding dozens of old syringes.

Distraught Murwillumbah mum Kym McMillan wants answers as to why health department workers left the bin on the floor of the town’s community health centre.

In response the North Coast Area Health Service yesterday denied the sharps bin contained “sharps”, saying it only held expired insulin pens – which are, however, commonly defined as a type of syringe used by diabetics.

The service did apologise to the family and said the Murwillumbah centre had since ordered all sharps bins to be “placed at a high level”.

Ms McMillan, with Marli, her twin sister Willow, and 13-year-old Brianna, were at the health centre on Wednesday morning when they were asked to wait in the room with the sharps bin.

Ms McMillan said suddenly she noticed Marli had her hand caught in the sharps bin – scratching it on a “claw-type ring” designed to stop contents coming out.

She was told to take Marli to Murwillumbah Hospital, where she stayed while blood tests were taken. She was told the tests may need to be followed up every three months.

“The hospital rang community health to see what type of needles they were,” Ms McMillan said.

“It was actually a diabetics’ bin – but diabetics can still have diseases.

“There must have been 100 dirty syringes in the bin. It should not have been on the floor.

“Now Marli needs to have blood tests every three months.”

A spokeswoman for the North Coast Area Health Service said “a sharps container in the room they were seen in was located on the floor. It did not contain sharps but had insulin pens which had expired.

“The child’s hand was scratched on plastic near the lid of the container. As a precaution, the mother and child were sent to the local hospital.

“North Coast Area Health Service apologises to the family for the distress this has caused.”

The spokeswoman said the centre had since ordered wall brackets for all offices to place sharps containers at a high level.

“A full site inspection has occurred to ensure all offices and public areas are child safe,” she said.

“All staff are to receive follow-up education on safe practice in regard to sharps management at the next Occupational Health and Safety meeting.”

NSW Health Department Guidelines for the disposal of “sharps” which include needles, syringes and lancets, says: “Always keep containers out of reach of children.”

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