The prevalence and risk factors for percutaneous injuries in registered nurses in the home health care sector

Am J Infect Control. 2009 Sep;37(7):525-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2008.10.022. Epub 2009 Feb 12.


Background: Patients continue to enter home health care (HHC) "sicker and quicker," often with complex health problems that require extensive intervention. This higher level of acuity may increase the risk of percutaneous injury (PI), yet information on the risk and risk factors for PI and other types of exposures in this setting is exceptionally sparse. To address this gap, a large cross-sectional study of self-reported exposures in HHC registered nurses (RNs) was conducted.

Methods: A convenience sample of HHC RNs (N=738) completed a survey addressing 5 major constructs: (1) worker-centered characteristics, (2) patient-related characteristics, (3) household characteristics, (4) organizational factors, and (5) prevalence of PIs and other blood and body fluid exposures. Analyses were directed at determining significant risk factors for exposure.

Results: Fourteen percent of RNs reported one or more PIs in the past 3 years (7.6 per 100 person-years). Nearly half (45.8%) of all PIs were not formally reported. PIs were significantly correlated with a number of factors, including lack of compliance with Standard Precautions (odds ratio [OR], 1.72; P=.019; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-2.71); recapping of needles (OR, 1.78; P=.016; 95% CI: 1.11-2.86); exposure to household stressors (OR, 1.99; P=.005; 95% CI: 1.22-3.25); exposure to violence (OR, 3.47; P=.001; 95% CI: 1.67-7.20); mandatory overtime (OR, 2.44; P=.006; 95% CI: 1.27-4.67); and safety climate (OR, 1.88; P=.004; 95% CI: 1.21-2.91) among others.

Conclusion: The prevalence of PI was substantial. Underreporting rates and risk factors for exposure were similar to those identified in other RN work populations, although factors uniquely associated with home care were also identified. Risk mitigation strategies tailored to home care are needed to reduce risk of exposure in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Blood-Borne Pathogens
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Nursing / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needlestick Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Needlestick Injuries / etiology
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universal Precautions
  • Violence
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines