Preventing Sharps Injuries in Medical Undergraduates Interview with:
Anna-Christina Lauer, MD
Department of Audiology and Phoniatrics
Charité-University Medicine Berlin
Berlin, Germany What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Gross: We could show that the injury rates depend on the undergraduate medical training the students attended. This demonstrates that medical
undergraduatue education, especially a hands-on training, is critical in
the prevention of needlestick- and sharps injuries.

Also the use of safety devices has proven to reduce injury rates

Given the large size of our study we could not only comfirm that
needlestick and sharps injuries are still a common problem, looking at an
injury rate of about 20% per year, we also learned a lot about the
accident circumstances: Most accidents occur at bedside during
venepuncture and intravenous cannulation. The second most common setting
is the operating room, where suturing and instrument transfers can lead to

Since we analyzed official reports and the anonymous surveys at the same
time we could affirm an underreporting rate of more than 50%. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Gross:  We did not expect to find such clear data regarding the prevention of
needlestick and sharps injuries. The introduction of safety instruments
resulted in a reduction of the official injury count by about 50%.
Furthermore the comparison of the different study programs showed us that
practical training is a significant factor in the prevention of injuries
and reassures us that specific practical training in safety instruments,
safe techniques and instrument disposal should be part of medical
undergraduate education.

Also we could see in our survey that students are very much interested in
learning safe techniques and first aid measures.  What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Gross: Clinicians and students should take away that many needlestick and sharps injuries can be avoided. Key factors are the medical undergraduate
training and the supply with safety devices. Based on our findings safety
devices can be recommended and might be considered in different fields as

Of course, not all accidents will be prevented. Therefore students and
staff have to be informed and trained in first aid measures to avoid
transmission of blood-borne diseases, part of which is the reporting of
the injury to ensure the proper treatment.  What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Gross: In order to gain an overview and also find the major accident causes at a faculty a cross-sectional study at different time points can provide a
detailed insight.

To go further an interesting field of research will be to investigate the
effects of preventive measures, especially the medical undergraduate
training, in longitudinal studies.

Needlestick and sharps injuries among medical undergraduate students

American Journal of Infection Control

Available online 2 January 2014Anna-Christina Lauer,Andreas Reddemann,Claus-Peter Meier-Wronski, MD,Harald Bias, Karin Gödecke, Dipl-Ing, Michael Arendt, Dipl-Phys,Harm Peters, MD, PhD, Manfred Gross, MD, PhD, MBA