The authors surveyed 1376 members of the ASSH to investigate the prevalence and nature of intraoperative injuries to hand surgeons during hand surgery. Two hundred members responded (15%). A hand surgeon in practice for greater than 10 years had a 97% chance of sustaining an intraoperative “sharps” injury. The injury was self-inflicted in 88% of cases and most often involved a needle stick to the left index finger. Hepatitis or HIV was contracted in 9 of 184 (5%) responses.
The risks of seroconversion from a contaminated needle stick are approximately 0.5% HIV (without post-exposure prophylaxis), 3 % Hepatitis C, and 30% Hepatitis B (without adequate vaccination). These percentages drop significantly for injures without an open bore (e.g. K-wires). Patients are also at risk for contracting disease from surgeons by cross contamination with a bloodied instrument. The authors have reminded us of the extreme importance of adhering to safety measures when handling patient blood and body fluids in a surgical setting.