Occupational deaths among healthcare workers

Emerg Infect Dis. 2005 Jul;11(7):1003-8. doi: 10.3201/eid1107.041038.


Recent experiences with severe acute respiratory syndrome and the US smallpox vaccination program have demonstrated the vulnerability of healthcare workers to occupationally acquired infectious diseases. However, despite acknowledgment of risk, the occupational death rate for healthcare workers is unknown. In contrast, the death rate for other professions with occupational risk, such as police officer or firefighter, has been well defined. With available information from federal sources and calculating the additional number of deaths from infection by using data on prevalence and natural history, we estimate the annual death rate for healthcare workers from occupational events, including infection, is 17-57 per 1 million workers. However, a much more accurate estimate of risk is needed. Such information could inform future interventions, as was seen with the introduction of safer needle products. This information would also heighten public awareness of this often minimized but essential aspect of patient care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • Health Personnel*
  • Hepatitis B / mortality
  • Hepatitis C / mortality
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Risk
  • Tuberculosis / mortality
  • United States