Frequency of puncture injuries in surgeons and estimated risk of HIV infection

Arch Surg. 1989 Nov;124(11):1284-6. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.1989.01410110038007.


To evaluate the occupational risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, we surveyed 202 surgeons working in the New York City metropolitan area. One hundred seventy-three (86%) surgeons reported at least one puncture injury in the preceding year (median number, 2 per year; interquartile range, 1 to 4 per year). Seventy-six percent of the injuries occurred during surgery, and the median injury rate was 4.2 per 1000 operating room hours. Twenty-five percent of the surgeons sustained yearly injury rates of 9 or more per 1000 operating room hours, and these high rates were independent of sex, age, type of practice, operative work load, or hospital location. Fifty-three percent of all injuries involved the index finger of the nondominant hand. If the prevalence of HIV infection in surgical patients is 5%, then the estimated 30-year risk of HIV seroconversion is less than 1% for 50% of the group, 1% to 2% for 25% of the group, 2% to 6% for 15% of the surgeons, and greater than 6% for 10% of the surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Finger Injuries / complications
  • Finger Injuries / epidemiology*
  • General Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City
  • Occupational Diseases / complications
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk
  • Wounds, Penetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Penetrating / epidemiology*