The risk of needlestick injuries and needlestick-transmitted diseases in the practice of anesthesiology

Anesthesiology. 1992 Nov;77(5):1007-21. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199211000-00025.


Anesthesiologists are at risk for acquiring blood-borne infections through contact with blood or body fluids. From prospective studies, the greatest risk of transmission is through a percutaneous exposure such as needlestick injury. Personal protective equipment such as gloves and gowns do not completely prevent these exposures. Although educational efforts can reduce the frequency of recapping of needles, they generally have not decreased the incidence of needlesticks. Therefore, in addition to practicing universal precautions, anesthesiologists can attempt to reduce their risk of needlestick injuries by eliminating nonessential unprotected needle use, through the use of needleless or protected needle devices (engineering controls) and by modifying anesthetic procedures requiring needles (work practice controls). Needleless or protected needle products are commercially available for use in many procedures performed by anesthesiologists. For tasks that require the use of needled devices, the practitioner should use safe techniques for handling (i.e., one-handed recapping if recapping is needed) and disposal (i.e., puncture-resistant containers) of these devices. Evaluation of the efficacy, cost, and safety of needleless or protected needle products should be continued as they are introduced into wider use. Additionally, anesthesiologists should be encouraged to report needlestick injuries so that appropriate postexposure treatment can be given and so that the incident can be studied to permit design of a work protocol or device to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology*
  • Humans
  • Needlestick Injuries* / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk
  • Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Wound Infection / etiology*