January 19, 2018

Changes in prevalence of needlestick injuries, protection practices, and attitudes over 12 years

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

Though needlestick injuries and exposure to bloodborne pathogens continue to be significant hazards for surgeons and nurses, concern about risk is declining, and the true conversion risk is underestimated, this study finds.

A survey was distributed to 358 medical students and 247 department of surgery staff at an urban academic hospital, with a response rate of 24.8%, and the data were compared to 2003 data.

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Of those responding, needlestick injuries were reported by 38.7% (11% high risk), and the most common cause was “careless/accidental.” Needlestick injuries increased from medical students to residents and fellows. A third of those injured had at least one unreported injury, and the most common reason was “inconvenient/too time consuming.”

Prevalence of needlestick injuries and double-glove use did not differ in medical students over the 12-year period, and one fourth of fellows reported always wearing double gloves.

Respondents underestimated or didn’t know the true seroconversion rate for bloodborne pathogens, and the concern for contracting a bloodborne pathogen significantly decreased from 2003. In addition, there were significantly less medical students with hepatitis B vaccinations.

Education on needlestick injury prevalence, seroconversion rates, and double-glove perforation rates may help in implementing protective strategies, the authors say.



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