To construct a single estimate of the number of percutaneous injuries sustained annually by healthcare workers (HCWs) in the United States.
We combined data collected in 1997 and 1998 at 15 National Surveillance System for Health Care Workers (NaSH) hospitals and 45 Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet) hospitals. The combined data, taken as a sample of all U.S. hospitals, were adjusted for underreporting. The estimate of the number of percutaneous injuries nationwide was obtained by weighting the number of percutaneous injuries at each hospital by the number of admissions in all U.S. hospitals relative to the number of admissions at that hospital.
The estimated number of percutaneous injuries sustained annually by hospital-based HCWs was 384,325 (95% confidence interval, 311,091 to 463,922). The number of percutaneous injuries sustained by HCWs outside of the hospital setting was not estimated.
Although our estimate is smaller than some previously published estimates of percutaneous injuries among HCWs, its magnitude remains a concern and emphasizes the urgent need to implement prevention strategies. In addition, improved surveillance could be used to monitor injury trends in all healthcare settings and evaluate the impact of prevention interventions.
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