Needlestick Injury in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Resident Programs

Emily N. Ahadizadeh, Lourdes Quintanilla-Dieck, Hailey Pfeifer, Mark K. Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Up to 800,000 percutaneous injuries involving healthcare workers occur each year. The morbidity of needlestick injuries (NSIs) ranges from nothing to death. The incidence of NSI in otolaryngology residency is deemed to be high based on prior studies. This study aimed at defining the trends in otolaryngology residents regarding sharps exposure. Study Design: Cross-sectional study using survey/questionnaire. Methods: Otolaryngology accredited residency programs in North America were surveyed in 2013 and 2017 regarding their experience with NSI and perceived risk of acquiring a blood-borne infection. Results: Surveys were received from 314 residents (31 programs). There was a total of 509 needlesticks, primarily occurring during junior years (post-graduate year 1–3, 81%). Sixty-eight percent of residents had experienced an NSI. Of the residents that had an injury, the mean number of sticks was 2.37 sticks/resident. Junior residents were less likely to report their injury compared to senior residents (50% vs. 30%). The primary reason for not reporting was the time commitment. Residents underestimated their risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (51% of residents) and overestimated their risk of acquiring hepatitis C virus (90% of residents). Conclusions: Occupational exposure is high in healthcare and particularly high in surgical trainees. The majority of otolaryngology trainees undergo a needlestick injury in their junior years. There continues to be underreporting of these injuries by residents, who report that the process is too time-consuming. Most residents do not have an accurate understanding of their actual risk of acquiring a blood-borne disease. These findings emphasize the need for education regarding risks and development of strategies to encourage reporting of injuries. Level of Evidence: VI Laryngoscope, 131:E1076–E1080, 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1076-E1080
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • HCV
  • HIV
  • Otolaryngology residency
  • blood-borne pathogen
  • needlestick
  • needlestick injury
  • occupational hazard
  • resident training
  • transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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