Understanding the hospital sharps injury reporting pathway

Am J Ind Med. 2015 Mar;58(3):282-9. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22392. Epub 2014 Oct 10.


Background: Patient-care workers are frequently exposed to sharps injuries, which can involve the risk of serious illness. Underreporting of these injuries can compromise prevention efforts.

Methods: We linked survey responses of 1,572 non-physician patient-care workers with the Occupational Health Services (OHS) database at two academic hospitals. We determined whether survey respondents who said they had sharps injuries indicated that they had reported them and whether reported injuries were recorded in the OHS database.

Results: Respondents said that they reported 62 of 78 sharps injuries occurring over a 12-month period. Only 28 appeared in the OHS data. Safety practices were positively associated with respondents' saying they reported sharps injuries but not with whether reported injuries appeared in the OHS data.

Conclusions: Administrators should consider creating reporting mechanisms that are simpler and more direct. Administrators and researchers should attempt to understand how incidents might be lost before they are recorded.

Keywords: hospital incident reporting; occupational injuries; sharps injuries; surveillance; underreporting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Equipment Safety / standards
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needlestick Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Personnel, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Management / methods
  • Risk Management / standards*