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Medical students and sharps or needlestick injuries

 

Clinical bottom line

About a third of medical students had a sharps injury over their clinical training, and one third of those was associated with hollow bore needles. Two-thirds were associated with sharp objects in surgery.

Injuries caused by hollow bore blood filled needles accounted for 17% of injuries, and were deemed high risk.


Reference

C Shen et al. Risk of needle stick and sharp object injuries among medical students. American Journal of Infection Control 1999 27: 435-437.

Study

One hundred and thirty-seven fourth year medical students who had been through a universal precautions training programme were studied by questionnaire over three months in 1995/6. The questionnaire related to their clinical training during their third and the first four months of their fourth year, and asked questions about sharp object and needlestick injuries.

Results

The response rate was 77%. Of the respondents 33% had sustained one or more sharp object injuries during their clinical training. Eight students reported two to four injuries. Most (94%) were wearing gloves.

Injuries caused by hollow bore blood filled needles accounted for 17% of injuries, and were deemed high risk.

Surgery accounted for 70% of injuries, and mostly involved suture needles. Hollow bore needles accounted for 34% injuries.

Only 43% of students who were injured reported the injury, mostly because they felt it was not serious enough to constitute a serious exposure.

Comment

This is another study (in the USA) showing high rates of needlestick injury. Here, 17% of injuries were high risk. This is of concern for young doctors in training, if, at a minimum, one in 25 has a high risk exposure during training.