Needle stick injuries among dental students: risk factors and recommendations for prevention
Aim: To evaluate the risk factors of needle stick injuries (NSIs) sustained by undergraduate dental students and nurse students at the King’s College London (KCL) Dental Institute.
Materials and methods: A retrospective study evaluated the incident reports relating to NSIs reported over a period of 2 years. Factors including the dental department, study year, and when the injury took place during administration of local anaesthesia (LA) and recapping conventional syringe or clearing work surface or during disposal.
Results: This report showed that students are at the highest risk of NSIs at the fourth year of their 5-year BDS course. About one-third of injuries were reported among this group of students followed by year 5 students (25%). Oral surgery clinics were the major source of incident reporting when compared with other specialised dental clinics within the institute. The left hands of the students were the most frequently affected by such injuries and then the right hands of student dental nurses. The attempt of needle recapping of conventional syringes was the least reported mechanism of injuries and constituted only 15% of the total injuries and mainly occurred in third year students. The most frequent injuries among student nurses were during disposal of the needle.
Conclusion: Less NSIs occur when using safety syringes. A non-recapping policy with immediate disposal of either the conventional or safety syringe systems after injection would prevent all clearance-related NSIs sustained by nurses. To avoid NSIs, education plays a vital role particularly with effective implementation of the change to safety syringes with appropriate training.
Keywords: needle stick injuries; local anaesthetic syringes; safety syringes; dental students; occupational hazards; dental anaesthetic syringes