Prevalence of Needlestick Injuries, Attitude Changes, and Prevention Practices Over 12 Years in an Urban Academic Hospital Surgery Department

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Objective:Needlestick injury prevalence, protection practices, and attitudes were assessed. Current medical students were compared with 2003 data to assess any changes that occurred with engineered safety feature implementation.Background:Risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens is elevated in the operating room particularly with surgeons in training and nurses.Methods:A cross-sectional survey was distributed to medical students (n = 358) and Department of Surgery staff (n = 247).Results:The survey response rate was 24.8%. Needlestick injuries were reported by 38.7% of respondents (11% high risk), and the most common cause was “careless/accidental.” Needlestick injury prevalence increased from medical students to residents and fellows (100%). Thirty-three percent of injured personnel had at least one unreported injury, and the most common reason was “inconvenient/too time consuming.” Needlestick injury prevalence and double-glove use in medical students did not differ from 2003, and 25% of fellows reported always wearing double gloves. The true seroconversion rate for bloodborne pathogens was underestimated or unknown. The concern for contracting a bloodborne pathogen significantly decreased (65%) compared to 2003, and there were significantly less medical students with hepatitis B vaccinations (78.3%). Level of concern for contracting a bloodborne pathogen was predictive of needlestick injury.Conclusions:Needlestick injury and occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens are significant hazards for surgeons and nurses. Attitudes regarding risk are changing, and the true seroconversion risk is underestimated. Educational efforts focused on needlestick injury prevalence, seroconversion rates, and double-glove perforation rates may be effective in implementing protective strategies.

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