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Occup Med (Lond). 1997 Nov;47(8):451-7.

Needlestick injuries among female veterinarians: frequency, syringe contents and side-effects.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Biometrics, School of Public Health, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


In a mixed-mode survey of all 1970-80 female graduates of all US veterinary colleges, information was obtained regarding several health, personal and occupational factors including data on occupational needlestick events. Among the 2,532 survey respondents, 1,620 reported one or more needlesticks after graduation from veterinary college (64.0% of all respondents). A total of 2,663 stick events were reported, although the descriptions of each puncture event varied in quality/completeness, probably due in large part to their retrospective nature. Substances most often injected include vaccines, antibiotics, anaesthetics and animal blood. Of the 438 sticks resulting in at least one side-effect (16.4% of all sticks), 337 were classified as mild and localized at the site of injection (12.4% of all sticks, approximately 77% of sticks producing a side-effect), with 18 characterized as severe and systemic (0.7% of all sticks, approximately 4% of sticks producing a side-effect). One accidental self-injection of a prostaglandin compound resulted in a spontaneous abortion, heightening awareness that occupational needlesticks may also represent a serious human reproductive health hazard. The estimated overall needlestick injury rate for this group of health care professionals was 9.3 sticks per 100 person-years (PYs) of practice, comparable to reported rates among health care workers such as nurses, laboratory technicians and hospital housekeeping staff. Accounting for underreporting of the stick events, the actual injury rate is likely to be at least 20 sticks per 100 PYs. When stick rates were estimated by clinical practice type (small animal, large animal and mixed practice), all-small-animal and mixed-practice veterinarians demonstrated the highest rates, with all-large-animal practitioners demonstrating a rate lower by about 40%.

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