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Surgical Students Fail to Report Needle Stick Injuries

nt occurs in the operating room, the surgeon's first inclination is to continue with the operation," he said. "But the extent of the problem is much greater than we thought. Previous estimates of injuries understate the magnitude of the problem, because most of the injuries are not being recorded."

It has also been seen that that residents who know their patient is a likely carrier of certain diseases are more likely to report the injury.

I think a lot of it is really a person's perception of risk," said Dr. Jim Kelaher, director of Occupational Health Programs at Baylor College of Medicine.

More hospitals need to do a better job in protection," Makary said. "They need more appropriate and more timely surgical systems so surgeons can get medical treatment immediately, not after a long bureaucratic process that takes them away from the patient. The findings highlight the need for "immediate steps to improve safety and care for health care workers to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis infection," he said .The hospitals could adopt so-called sharp less technologies where possible, including electric scalpels, clips and glues.

He and colleagues also called for better reporting mechanisms, such as internal hotlines and response teams; routine prompts, such as postoperative checklists; and "peer-to-peer education" to encourage reporting.

These injuries occur although the United States is the only nation that has a comprehensive needle safety program, said Ron Stoker, executive director of the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society, an organization devoted to reducing such injuries. The program came into existence when President Bill Clinton signed a bill passed by Congress in November 2000.

Under current practices, the operating room will remain a high-risk area, with "sometimes hundreds of needles used and passed from surgeon to surgeon and from surgeon to nurse," Makary said.
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