Original communication| Volume 114, ISSUE 5, P897-901, November 1993

Exposure rates to patients' blood for surgical personnel

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      Background. Surgical personnel are at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases through exposure to patients' blood. Exposure rates for each surgical subspeciality have not been previously reported. The purpose of this study was to determine the rates of exposure to patients' blood for operating room personnel.
      Methods. The study was conducted at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a level I trauma center and tertiary care hospital. During a 3-month period, exposed personnel were interviewed by a study nurse immediately after a cutaneous exposure to blood or after a sharp injury.
      Results. During 2292 surgical procedures, 70 sharp injuries and 168 cutaneous exposures to blood were reported. The combined exposure rate (skin contact and sharp injury) was 10.4 per 100 procedures (95% confidence interval, 9.1 to 11.6) and ranged from 21.2 for general surgery to 3.3 for pediatric surgery (goodness-of-fit chi-squared, p < 0.001). The combined exposure rates were also significantly different among types of surgery and ranged from 18 for laparotomies to 4.3 for craniotomies (chi-squared, p < 0.001). The overall sharp injury rate was 3.1 per 100 procedures (95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 3.8) and ranged from 4.3 for general surgery to 1.3 for vascular surgery.
      Conclusions. The rate of exposure to blood for operating room personnel, which differ from prior studies, was 10.4 per 100 procedures and was highest for general surgical procedures. The differences in rates among studies might be attributable to different surgical technique, dissimilar case-mix, or different research methods relating to definition or ascertainment of exposure.
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