Determination of risk of infection with blood-borne pathogens following a needlestick injury in hospital workers

Ann Occup Hyg. 2008 Oct;52(7):615-22. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/men044. Epub 2008 Jul 29.


Objectives: Our paper measures the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in patients at the University Hospital of Frankfurt/Main, and correlates the prevalence with risk factors for exposure to and infection of healthcare workers (HCWs). Individual risk assessments were calculated for exposed HCWs.

Methods: Survey of patients admitted to a German University Hospital. Markers for HBV, HCV and HIV were studied and evaluated statistically. Data on needlestick injuries (NSIs) among HCWs were correlated with the prevalence of infectious patients.

Results: The HBV, HCV and HIV prevalence among patients at the University Hospital were 5.3% (n = 709/13 358), 5.8% (n = 1167/20 163) and 4.1% (n = 552/13 381), respectively. Our results indicate that the prevalence of blood-borne infections in patients was about nine times higher for HBV, approximately 15 times higher for HCV and approximately 82 times higher for HIV than in the overall German population. The highest risk of acquiring a blood-borne infection via NSI was found in the department of internal medicine due to increased prevalence of blood-borne pathogens in patients under treatment.

Conclusions: While accidental NSIs were most frequent in surgery, the nominal risk of blood-borne virus infection was greatest in the field of internal medicine. The study underlines the importance of HBV vaccinations and access to HIV-post-exposure prophylaxis for HCWs as well as the use of anti-needlestick devices.

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Borne Pathogens / isolation & purification*
  • Germany
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional*
  • Needlestick Injuries / complications*
  • Occupational Diseases / microbiology
  • Personnel, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Virus Diseases / transmission*