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Sharps and needle-stick injuries among medical residents and healthcare professional students: pattern and reporting in Italy—a cross-sectional analytical study


Objectives Healthcare workers, in the course of their professional activity, are potentially exposed to chemical, physical and above all biological risks. The aims of our study were to investigate the extent and distribution of needle-stick and sharp injuries (NSIs) in healthcare students, the behaviours and circumstances most frequently associated with NSIs, the frequency of NSI reporting and the adherence to the post-exposure protocols.

Methods This study involved, through an interviewer-administered structured questionnaire, undergraduate and postgraduate students attending postgraduate medical schools and healthcare professional schools who underwent occupational health visits between January 2015 and July 2018.

Results Of the 642 students that participated in the study, 95 (14.8%) sustained an NSI during the traineeship and, of these, 59 (62.1%) reported the NSI to the occupational health service. NSIs were significantly more frequent in older subjects (χ²=9.853, p=0.020) and, among medical residents, in surgical residents (χ²=31.260, p<0.0001); moreover, occurrence of NSIs increased with increasing duration of traineeship (t=−2.051, p=0.041). Reporting of NSIs significantly increased with increasing age (χ²=12.543, p=0.006), with medical residents significantly under-reporting NSIs compared with undergraduate healthcare professional students (χ²=10.718, p=0.001) and among medical residents, those attending critical care units had the highest under-reporting (χ²=7.323, p=0.026).

Conclusions The study showed remarkable under-reporting, as well as a lack of preparedness of students for NSI preventive and post-exposure effective measures. Our findings underline that healthcare student education should be reinforced to ensure that safe practices are carried out when needles and sharps are involved, as well as stressing the importance of NSI reporting and adherence to post-exposure prophylaxis protocols.

  • needle-stick injuries
  • sharp injuries
  • medical residents
  • healthcare professional students
  • nurses
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