Preventing needlesticks in emergency medical system workers

J Occup Environ Med. 2001 Jun;43(6):554-7. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200106000-00009.


Emergency medical system (EMS) workers frequently use sharp devices in injury-prone circumstances that involve limited visibility, confined spaces, rapidly moving vehicles, and uncooperative victims. This study examined the efficacy of an automatic self-retracting lancet in reducing needlestick injuries and related direct and indirect costs. Subjects were 477 active-duty EMS workers. Counseling, laboratory testing (hepatitis B and C, hepatic function enzymes, and human immunodeficiency virus), antiviral prophylaxis, and immunizations were provided according to US Public Health Service guidelines. Baseline and biennial laboratory testing for hepatitis B and C and liver function enzymes were conducted. After the introduction of a spring-loaded automatic-retracting type glucometer lancet device, needlestick injuries decreased from 16 per 954 EMS worker-years to 2 per 477 EMS worker-years. The annualized cost of treatment declined from $8276 to $2068. The change to a self-retracting device decreased the number of needlestick injuries and was cost-effective with a minimal increase in device cost (annualized $366 per year).

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Emergency Medical Technicians*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles*
  • Needlestick Injuries / prevention & control*