Needlestick Injuries Common In Female Veterinarians, Study Finds

llness that may be transmitted from animals such as cows, goats and hogs to humans, and one spontaneous abortion in the 15th week of pregnancy. Extreme swelling and inflammation affected almost 5 percent of those who experienced side effects, while five doctors endured allergic reactions and two had psychedelic experiences.

The majority of needlestick injuries occurred in situations where the veterinarians were treating smaller animals. Women in small- and mixed-animal practices reported 9.8 and 9.7 sticks per 100 working years respectively, while those in large animal practice only reported 5.8 needlestick wounds per 100 years, a rate 40 percent lower than the other groups. Wilkins said he was surprised by the wide gap in needlestick rates, and added that he has not looked at the characteristics of women in the latter veterinary practice group.

Wilkins said he suspects the rate of women veterinarians accidentally sticking themselves may be almost two times higher than reported.

“Some of the women in the study were asked to think back over the 16 or 17 years they’ve been working,” he said, adding that doctors commonly responded with, ‘It’s happened a lot. I really can’t remember how many times.’”
Wilkins also said that while the animal practitioners are now more aware of this occupational hazard than they were a decade ago, it is important that the women realize the potential side effects of accidental injections.

“The special health concerns of female veterinarians are attracting increasing attention as greater numbers of women enter the profession,” he said.

He added that nurses, hospital lab technicians, hospital housekeeping staff and emergency medicine personnel appear to be at similar risk of sticking themselves with a syringe.

This study was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


Contact: Jay Wilkins
(614) 293-3897
Ohio State University

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