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Needlestick Injuries Common Among Medical Students

Study suggests underreporting is rife, putting students at risk of infection

MONDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The underdeveloped skills of medical students puts them at risk of contracting hepatitis and HIV due to needlestick injuries which frequently go unreported, according to a study published in the December issue of Academic Medicine.

Giriraj K. Sharma, of the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a survey of 699 recently enrolled surgical residency students to find out about their experience with needlestick injuries whilst at medical school.

In all, 415 (59 percent) of the medical students reported needlestick injuries, with a median two injuries per injured respondent, the researchers found. Sustaining a needlestick injury while at medical school was associated with higher risk of sustaining an injury during residency, the survey revealed. Of residents whose most recent needlestick injury occurred during medical school, 47 percent did not report it to an employee health office.

"Needlestick injuries are common among medical students and often go unreported to employee health services," the authors write. "These findings, coupled with advances in post-exposure prophylaxis in preventing infection, call attention to the urgency of addressing this preventable problem. Medical students incur a significant risk of personal injury during their clinical training; medical centers should do more to implement novel prevention strategies and improved reporting systems for medical students."

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