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Needlesticks among medical residents most likely when academic year kicks off: study

Photo: wanderluster/iStockphoto

New York — New resident physicians – who onboard in July each year – face the highest risk of needlestick and other sharps injuries during the first three months of the academic year, according to researchers from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

The researchers examined 5,395 NSIs reported by workers to the NYU Langone Health’s Occupational Health Services from January 2000 to February 2020. The injuries were analyzed by employee type, specialty and month of injury.

NSIs were most prevalent in the third quarter (28.7%) of the academic year, which corresponds with the first three months of training for new resident physicians (July to September). Only 13.3% of the injuries were reported by house staff.

The three highest NSI incident rates occurred in surgical specialties: urology (16.0 per 10 house staff members), orthopedic surgery (14.1) and surgery (14.0). The highest incident rates in medical/nonsurgical specialties were pathology (11.5 per 10 house staff members), dermatology (11.3) and anesthesiology (10.4).

The researchers note that 600,000 to 800,000 NSI events are reported annually in U.S. hospitals, and the associated cost can range from $500 to $3,000, depending on the treatment needed.


Training and education on NSIs should target residents during onboarding and possibly be repeated on an annual basis between postgraduate years, the researchers say. They add that the transition of new resident physicians from June to July is a “pivotal point for intervention” to limit NSIs.

The study was published online Nov. 4 in the journal JAMA Surgery.

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