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Arch Hellen Med, 31(6), November-December 2014, 718-724


Percutaneous exposures among health care workers in a Greek tertiary hospital

M. Samarkos,1,2 F. Veini,3 S. Kostourou,3 E. Dokoutsidou,2 I. Baraboutis,1 A. Skoutelis1
1Fifth Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Unit, "Evangelismos" Hospital, Athens
2First Department of Internal Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Medicine, "Laiko" General Hospital, Athens
3Infection Control Unit, "Evangelismos" Hospital, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Percutaneous exposures (PCE) constitute a major occupational health problem for health care workers (HCW). Data on the incidence rate of PCE from Greek hospitals are sparse. The epidemiology of PCE was investigated in a tertiary care general hospital in Greece and compared with data from other countries.

METHOD A cohort study was conducted, with prospective collection of data on all PCEs reported in two years in a 950-bed tertiary care general hospital. A standardized data collection form was used in face to face interviews with the HCW who reported each incident.

RESULTS A total of 374 PCEs were recorded, giving an incidence rate of 23.1 per 100 occupied beds per year. The highest rate was recorded among nursing students, 25.5 per 100 full time equivalents (FTEs) per year. The incidence rate of PCE was significantly higher in medical than in surgical wards. The most common circumstances associated with a PCE were inappropriate sharps disposal (18.7%) and recapping (17.9%). In 29% of the PCEs the exposed HCW was injured by a needle inappropriately handled or disposed of by another person.

CONCLUSIONS The incidence of PCEs in the study hospital is high in comparison to reports from other Greek hospitals and international documentation. Obvious causative factors are lack of education in safety issues, limited use of safety or needleless devices, high workload and understaffing.

Key words: Infection control, Needlestick injuries, Occupational accidents, Occupational exposure, Sharps injuries.

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