National evaluation of needlestick events and reporting among surgical residents

Sept. 27, 2019

Needlestick injuries pose significant health hazards; however, the nationwide frequency of needlesticks and reporting practices among surgical residents is unknown. The objectives of this study were to: (1) examine the rate and circumstances of self-reported needlestick events in United States surgery residents, (2) assess factors associated with needlestick injuries, (3) evaluate reporting practices, and (4) identify reporting barriers.

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.

Among 7,395 resident survey respondents from all 260 United States general surgery residency programs (99.3% response rate), 27.7% noted experiencing a needlestick event in the last six 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 29.9% vs 22.4%; OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.41-1.96), female gender (31.9% vs. male: 25.2%) or frequently working >80 hours per week. Over one-fourth of residents (28.7%) did not report the needlestick event to employee health.

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.

The report was published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons.

The National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) has the abstract.