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Workers' Compensation Claims for Needlestick Injuries Among Healthcare Workers in Washington State, 1996-2000

  • Syed M. Shah (a1), David Bonauto (a1), Barbara Silverstein (a1) and Michael Foley (a1)

To characterize accepted workers' compensation claims for needlestick injuries filed by healthcare workers (HCWs) in non-hospital compared with hospital settings in Washington State.


Descriptive study of all accepted workers' compensation claims filed between 1996 and 2000 for needlestick injuries.


All Washington State HCWs eligible to file a state fund workers' compensation claim and those who filed a workers' compensation claim for a needlestick injury.


There were 3,303 accepted state fund HCW needlestick injury claims. The incidence of needlestick injury claims per 10,000 full-time-equivalent HCWs in hospitals was 158.6; in dental offices, 104.7; in physicians' offices, 87.0; and in skilled nursing facilities, 80.8. The most common mechanisms of needlestick injury by work location were as follows: for hospitals, suturing and other surgical procedures (16.7%), administering an injection (12.7%), and drawing blood (10%); for dentists' offices, recapping (21.3%) and cleaning trays and instruments (18.2%); for physicians' offices, disposal (22.2%) and administering an injection (10.2%); and for skilled nursing facilities, disposal (23.7%) and administering an injection (14.9%). Nurses accounted for the largest (29%) proportion of HCWs involved, followed by dental assistants (17%) and laboratory technicians and phlebotomists (12%) in non-hospital settings. Rates of needlestick injury claims increased for non-hospital settings by 7.5% annually (95% confidence interval [CI95], 4.89% to 10.22%; P < .0001). Rates decreased for hospital settings by 5.8% annually, but the decline was not statistically significant (CI95, -12.50% to 1.34%; P < .1088). HCWs were exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency viruses in non-hospital settings.


There was a difference in the incidence rate and mechanisms of needlestick injuries on review of workers' compensation claim records for HCWs in non-hospital and hospital settings.

Corresponding author
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Health Sciences Building, 107 Wiggins Road, Saskatoon, SK S7N5E5, Canada..
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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