Sharps exposures among otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residents

Laryngoscope. 2012 Mar;122(3):578-82. doi: 10.1002/lary.22469. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Objectives/hypothesis: Examine the incidence of sharps exposures among otolaryngology residents, assess characteristics of exposures, and determine rates of reporting these potentially career- and life-impacting exposures.

Study design: Cohort study of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residents.

Methods: Survey was administered online to otolaryngology residents in the spring of 2008, gathering demographic information, characteristics of sharps exposures, and residents' self-reporting of sharps exposures.

Results: Among 1,407 otolaryngology residents nationwide, 231 completed the survey. Of these, 168 (72.7%) had at least one sharps exposure during residency, with most due to solid-bore needles (51.7%) and occurring in the operating room (67%). Fifty percent of residents reported exposures occurring in postgraduate year (PGY)-3 or PGY-4, whereas exposures occurred at slightly lower rates in the other PGYs. There was no difference in incidence of sharps exposures based on gender (Fisher exact test, P = .2742) or history of sharps exposure during medical school (Fisher exact test, P = .7559). Seventy-four participants had an exposure that they did not report to the hospital, with the most common reason for not reporting being the perceived burden of the hospital testing protocol.

Conclusions: Otolaryngology residents report a high rate of sharps exposures during residency training, with a significant number of these exposures going unreported. Better education may be needed to help decrease these often preventable workplace exposures and to improve compliance with reporting and testing procedures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Needlestick Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Otolaryngology / education*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / education*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology