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Occupational Needlestick Injuries in a US Airport

Dorevitch, Samuel MD, MPH; Lacey, Steven E. PhD; Abelmann, Anders MS; Zautcke, John MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 5 - p 551-554
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181dbc896
Original Articles

Objective: To characterize needlestick injuries (NSIs) among airport workers, and to suggest preventive strategies.

Methods: A retrospective chart review (2003–2008) of workers evaluated at a clinic in a large US airport that provides occupational health services.

Results: Over a period of 6 years, 14 NSI cases were seen. The majority of injuries occurred while workers cleaned lavatories in the airport or on airplanes. Insulin needles were involved in most cases, and the injuries typically occurred on the hand. No cases of hepatitis B, C, or HIV seroconversion were documented, although follow-up was typically incomplete.

Conclusions: The improper disposal of used insulin needles among travelers can result in potential bloodborne pathogen exposure among airport workers. Occupational NSIs have not previously been described among airport workers. A multilevel approach to prevention is recommended.

From the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (Dr Dorevitch, Dr Lacey, Mr Abelmann), School of Public Health; and Department of Emergency Medicine (Dr Dorevitch, Dr Zautcke), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

Address correspondence to: Samuel Dorevitch, MD, MPH, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2121 West Taylor St. (MC 922) Chicago, IL 60612; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine