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Needlestick Injuries are Common and Underreported Among Interventional Radiologists

New survey illuminates prevalence of needlestick injuries and why they often go unreported.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Friday, December 15, 2017


Although they are commonly underreported, needlestick injuries can lead to serious health and emotional consequences for physicians.

In a new study, researchers looked at the prevalence of and risk factors for needlesticks among interventional radiology physicians. Interventional radiology is a medical subspecialty in which minimally invasive, image-guided procedures are used to diagnose and treat disease.

The researchers emailed all the members of the Society of Interventional Radiology with a link to a web-based anonymous survey regarding instances in which needles accidentally puncture the skin. Questions covered the nature, frequency, and type of needlestick injuries and whether the injuries were reported to anyone, as well as the factors that promote or interfere with reporting of these injuries.

Nearly a quarter of the 3,889 interventional radiologists contacted submitted responses. More than 90 percent of them reported experiencing at least one needlestick injury, with an estimated incidence of 0.2 needlestick injuries per year of practice. One-third of needlestick injuries are not reported to employee health services, and three-quarters of respondents did not notify their significant other of the injury.

Factors associated with failure to report needlestick injuries were male sex, perception of the patient being low-risk, trainee status, and a higher number of prior injuries.

Overall, the survey found that needlestick injuries are common among interventional radiology physicians and often go unreported. These results, published in the journal Radiology, highlight the continued need for efforts to prevent needlestick injuries and encourage reporting of such injuries.