Health care workers are attributed to the group at highest risk of occupationally acquired bloodborne diseases as the result of contact with blood and body fluids. A cross sectional study was conducted between November 2009 and February 2010 in the North of Portugal, to identify potential risk factors for needlestick and sharps injuries. A questionnaire was provided to 363 health care professionals. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors associated to needlestick and sharps injuries, calculating odds ratio (OR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI). Sixty-five percent of health care workers (64.5%, 234/363) reported needlestick and sharps injuries in the previous 5 years. Of the injured workers, 74.8% were nurses. Of the total injuries reported, the commonest were from syringe needle unit. The multivariate logistic regression model showed that the strongest risk factor was having more than 10 years or more of work in health services (OR 3.37, 95% CI 1.82, 6.24). Another significantly related factor was being over 39 years-old (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.03, 3.63). In Portugal, there is a lack of epidemiological evidence related to needlestick and sharps injuries. Considering that patients infected with hepatitis B and C virus are commonly encountered in the hospital environment and that the prevalence of HIV infection in Portugal is one of the highest in Europe, these results should be considered in the design of biosafety strategies at the Hospital Center.
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