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Needlesticks in police officers


Clinical bottom line

Police officers over 6-10 years of service ran a 3 in 10 risk of at least 1 needlestick injury.


J Lorentz et al. Occupational needlestick injuries in a metropolitan police force. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2000 18: 146-150.


The population was all active police officers of the san Diego Police Department (SDPD) in 1996. The average length of service was nine years. Each was sent an anonymous self-administered questionnaire, and those who had had a needlestick injury completed additional questions about the circumstances and consequences.


The response rate was 46%, with 803 questionnaires returned, and they were representative of SDPD personnel. Of these 238 (30%) reported at least one needlestick injury, with 66 having multiple needlestick injuries. Most occurred during searches of suspects or arrestees. Three quarters of police officers wore protective gloves.

Only 39% sought medical advice at the time of the incident, but most of them were very concerned over the incident and most thought the significance of a needlestick injury the same or greater than a knife or gunshot wound.


This was a really detailed survey, with an interesting literature review concerning other groups of workers.