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Hospital Administrators' Tolerance of Staff Needlestick Injuries

  • Carla J. Treloar (a1), John A. Malcolm (a1), David C. Sutherland (a1), Sandy Berenger (a2) and Nick Higginbotham (a3)...



To survey hospital administrators regarding their opinions of an acceptable frequency of staff needlestick injury and the frequency that would prompt additional preventive action.


A simple anonymous questionnaire sent to 960 administrators with one reminder. Data were collected regarding hospital size and community role, whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients had ever been treated, presence of an infection control practitioner, estimation of the proportion of staff vaccinated against hepatitis B, and opinions as to the acceptable frequency of needlestick accidents and the accident frequency requiring additional action.


240 public hospitals in New South Wales, Australia.


The executive officers, directors of medical services, directors of nursing, and safety officers of the hospitals surveyed.


The response rate was 50%. Administrators' opinions of acceptable accident frequency increased with hospital size and (independently of size) with experience with HIV-infected patients, and with the presence of a full-time infection control practitioner. Accident frequencies judged to require additional preventive action were higher than injury frequencies regarded as acceptable.


The hospital administrators surveyed accept staff needlestick injuries as inevitable, the more so in hospitals that have treated known HIV-infected patients and that have full-time infection control practitioners.



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1.Looke, DFM, Grove, DI. Failed prophylactic zidovudine after needlestick injury. Lancet 1990;335:1280.
2.Sellick, JA, Hazamy, PA, Mylotte, JM. Influence of an educational program and mechanical opening needle disposal boxes on occupational needlestick iniuries. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1991;12:725731.
3.Henderson, DK, Fahey, BJ, Willy, M, et al.Risk for occupational transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV 1) associated with clinical exposures: a prospective evaluation. Ann Intern Med 1990;113:740746.
4.Faoagali, J, Hohrmann, R. Accidental needlestick (sharps) and body fluid exposure incidents at a major metropolitan children's hospital over a seven year period. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 1992;16:362364.
5.Waters, M. Prevention and management of sharps related injuries in the health care setting. Infection Control Journal August 1991:38.
6.De Laune, S. Risk reduction through testing, screening and infection control precautions-with special emphasis on needlestick injuries. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1990;11:563565.

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Hospital Administrators' Tolerance of Staff Needlestick Injuries

  • Carla J. Treloar (a1), John A. Malcolm (a1), David C. Sutherland (a1), Sandy Berenger (a2) and Nick Higginbotham (a3)...


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