Background: The goal of this study was to analyze the type and mechanism of blood exposure injuries on the surgical service in order to develop appropriate preventative strategies.
Methods: A retrospective review of all exposure injuries affecting members of the operative care line at a single teaching institution between December 2002 and December 2005 was performed.
Results: Of 98 exposure injuries on the surgical service, only 17 (17%) were inflicted by hollow-bore needles. Seventy-four (76%) of these reported injuries occurred in the operating room (OR) and 24 (24%) occurred in other clinical areas. Sharps injuries accounted for 69 (93%) of OR injuries and were inflicted by suture needles (n = 37, 50%), hollow-bore needles (n = 7, 9%), and sharp instruments (n = 25, 34%). Mucocutaneous contamination accounted for 5 (7%) of the OR exposures. Professionals most frequently injured were residents (n = 43, 44%), followed by nurses (n = 28, 29%), students (n = 17, 17%) and other healthcare workers (n = 10, 10%).
Conclusions: Blood exposure prevention strategies should be directed at safety within the surgical field and focused beyond hollow-bore needle stick injuries to include education, mentoring, and competency training.