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Duration of Time on Shift Before Accidental Blood or Body Fluid Exposure for Housestaff, Nurses, and Technicians

  • Judith Green-McKenzie (a1) and Frances S. Shofer (a2) (a3)

Shift work has been found to be associated with an increased rate of errors and accidents among healthcare workers (HCWs), but the effect of shift work on accidental blood and body fluid exposure sustained by HCWs has not been well characterized.


To determine the duration of time on shift before accidental blood and body fluid exposure in housestaff, nurses, and technicians and the proportion of housestaff who sustain a blood and body fluid exposure after 12 hours on duty.


This retrospective, descriptive study was conducted during a 24-month period at a large urban teaching hospital. Participants were HCWs who sustained an accidental blood and body fluid exposure.


Housestaff were on duty significantly longer than both nursing staff (P = .02) and technicians (P < .0001) before accidental blood and body fluid exposure. Half of the blood and body fluid exposures sustained by housestaff occurred after being on duty 8 hours or more, and 24% were sustained after being on duty 12 hours or more. Of all HCWs, 3% reported an accidental blood and body fluid exposure, with specific rates of 7.9% among nurses, 9.4% among housestaff, and 3% among phlebotomists.


Housestaff were significantly more likely to have longer duration of time on shift before blood and body fluid exposure than were the other groups. Almost one-quarter of accidental blood and body fluid exposures to housestaff were incurred after they had been on duty for 12 hours or more. Housestaff sustained a higher rate of accidental blood and body fluid exposures than did nursing staff and technicians.

Corresponding author
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce St., Occupational Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283 (
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