National Evaluation of Needlestick Events and Reporting Among Surgical Residents

J Am Coll Surg. 2019 Dec;229(6):609-620. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2019.09.001. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Background: Needlestick injuries pose significant health hazards; however, the nationwide frequency of needlesticks and reporting practices among surgical residents are unknown. The objectives of this study were to examine the rate and circumstances of self-reported needlestick events in US surgery residents, assess factors associated with needlestick injuries, evaluate reporting practices, and identify reporting barriers.

Study design: A survey administered after the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (January 2017) asked surgical residents how many times they experienced a needlestick during the last 6 months, circumstances of the most recent event, and reporting practices and barriers. Factors associated with needlestick events were examined using multivariable hierarchical regression models.

Results: Among 7,395 resident survey respondents from all 260 US general surgery residency programs (99.3% response rate), 27.7% (n = 2,051) noted experiencing a needlestick event in the last 6 months. Most events occurred in the operating room (77.5%) and involved residents sticking themselves (76.2%), mostly with solid needles (84.7%). Self-reported factors underlying needlestick events included residents' own carelessness (48.8%) and feeling rushed (31.3%). Resident-level factors associated with self-reported needlestick events included senior residents (PGY5 29.9% vs PGY1 22.4%; odds ratio 1.66; 95% CI 1.41 to 1.96), female sex (31.9% vs male 25.2%; odds ratio 1.31; 95% CI 1.18 to 1.46), or frequently working more than 80 hours per week (odds ratio 1.42; 95% CI 1.20 to 1.68). More than one-fourth (28.7%) of residents did not report the needlestick event to employee health.

Conclusions: In this comprehensive national survey of surgical residents, needlesticks occurred frequently. Many needlestick events were not reported and numerous reporting barriers exist. These findings offer guidance in identifying opportunities to reduce needlesticks and encourage reporting of these potentially preventable injuries among trainees.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Needlestick Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology