OBJECTIVE: Needlesticks are common work-related injuries suffered by health care professionals. We sought to identify prevalence of needlestick/sharps injuries of residents working in the operating room and identify contributing factors and barriers to reporting/seeking treatment.
METHODS: A 17-question survey on needlestick injuries was distributed to 168 residents in anesthesiology, surgery, and surgical subspecialties and the responses were analyzed for statistical significance of differences observed between departments.
RESULTS: Of 138 respondents (82% response rate), 49% of residents had at least one needlestick injury during training. One quarter did not report their injuries to employee health or seek treatment, with the largest percentage from general surgery (53%). The primary reasons for not reporting injuries or seeking treatment included time away from patient care and lack of concern about the injury. More than half (64%) of the anesthesiology residents who reported an injury thought fatigue was a contributing factor.
CONCLUSIONS: Half of residents sustained an injury and a quarter of injuries did not get reported, with the most valid reason being too much time away from patient care. Only anesthesiology residents commonly cited fatigue as a contributor to their needlestick/sharps injury. Understanding the program-specific needlestick/sharps injury incidence and prevalence, and the attitudes about reporting injuries and seeking treatment, is a first step toward prevention of injury for residents in training. ACGME Core Competencies: Medical Knowledge, Practice-based Learning and Improvement, Professionalism.
Keywords: Bloodborne pathogen Education Needlesticks Occupational hazard Sharps Surgery