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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Health care workers face bloodborne infections, as some 320,000 needlesticks occurring annually

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to cite hospitals for gaps in sharps safety programs and new devices have greatly reduced some hazards, the needlestick problem persists.

From the first survey of its scope, the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) estimates that health care workers are sustaining 320,000 needlesticks and 119,000 mucocutaneous, or splash, incidents each year in hospital and non-hospital settings.

AOHP members from 125 hospitals in 29 states responded to the EXPO-S.T.O.P. survey (Exposure Survey of Trends in Occupational Practice), representing every region in the country. At its peak in 2000, the National Surveillance System for Health Care Workers (NaSH) collected data from 64 health care facilities.

“These exposure incidents are still happening and any one of them, if the source patient was positive [for a bloodborne pathogen], was a potential infection,” says co-author Linda Good, RN, PhD, COHN-S, director of Employee Occupational Services at Scripps Health in San Diego, CA.


1. Grimmond T and Good L. EXPO-S.T.O.P.: A national survey and estimate of sharps injuries and mucocutaneous blood exposures among healthcare workers in USA. Journal of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare 2013; 33:31-36.