Sharps injuries among medical students

Ourania Varsou*, John S. Lemon, Finlay D. Dick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background Medical students may be at risk of sharps injuries for several reasons. These exposures can transmit a range of blood-borne pathogens including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus.

Aims To evaluate medical students' knowledge regarding the prevention and management of sharps injuries and their experience of such exposures in the calendar year 2007.

Methods A cross-sectional, web-based, survey of fourth and fifth year medical students enrolled at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. All students were at the mid-point of their year of study. An invitation e-mail and two electronic reminders were sent, on specified days, to the study population. These contained a summary of the study and the link to the anonymous questionnaire.

Results Of the 395 medical students e-mailed, 238 (60%) responded. When compared with fourth year medical students, final year students had higher mean knowledge scores for sharps injury management (P <0.01). Of total, 18% reported resheathing used needles and 31% reported disposing of sharps for others, indicating poor compliance with standard precautions. In the event of an injury, 29% stated that they would scrub the wound. Only 44% were familiar with policies for reporting exposures. In all, 11% of students had experienced at least one contaminated sharps injury in 2007 and, of those, 40% had reported the most recent incident.

Conclusions Medical students are at risk of sharps injuries and their knowledge regarding the prevention and management of these exposures is limited: training on these issues should be increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-511
Number of pages3
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Medical students
  • needlestick injuries
  • occupational exposures
  • sharps injuries


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