Background: Anesthesia personnel are at risk for occupational infection with bloodborne pathogens from contaminated percutaneous injuries (CPIs). Additional information is needed to formulate methods to reduce risk.
Methods: The authors analyzed CPIs collected during a 2-yr period at 11 hospitals, assessed CPI underreporting, and estimated risks of infection with human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus.
Results: Data regarding 138 CPIs were collected: 74% were associated with blood-contaminated hollow-bore needles, 74% were potentially preventable, 30% were considered high-risk injuries from devices used for intravascular catheter insertion or obtaining blood, and 45% were reported to hospital health services. Corrected for injury underreporting, the CPI rate was 0.27 CPIs per yr per person; per full-time equivalent worker, there were 0.42 CPIs/yr. The estimated average 30-yr risks of human immunodeficiency virus or hepatitis C virus infection per full-time equivalent are 0.049% and 0.45%, respectively. Projecting these findings to all anesthesia personnel in the United States, the authors estimate that there will be 17 human immunodeficiency virus infections and 155 hepatitis C virus infections in 30 yr.
Conclusions: Performance of anesthesia tasks is associated with CPIs from blood-contaminated hollow-bore needles. Thirty percent of all CPIs would have been high-risk for bloodborne pathogen transmission if the source patients were infected. Most CPIs were potentially preventable, and fewer than half were reported to hospital health services. The results identify devices and mechanisms responsible for CPIs, provide estimates of risk levels, and permit formulation of strategies to reduce risks.