Long working hours increase the risk of sharp and needlestick injury in nurses: the need for new policy implication


  • Mustafa N. İlhan MD PhD,

  • Elif Durukan MD,

  • Evi̇n Aras MD,

  • Sertaç Türkçüoğlu MD,

  • Remzi̇ Aygün MD

Mustafa N. İlhan,
Gazi Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi,
Halk Sağlığı AD,
E-mail: mnilhan@gazi.edu.tr


Aim.  This paper reports a study to determine the sharp and needlestick injury incidence in nurses working at a university hospital and the contributing factors.

Background.  Although it is generally felt that working in the healthcare sector is clean and without risk, healthcare staff and especially physicians and nurses who generally work very long hours are actually exposed to various occupational risks. Sharps and needlestick injuries are important problems for healthcare workers as they increase the risk of spread of infection.

Method.  A self-administered questionnaire was completed in October 2005 by 449 of the 516 nurses working at a Turkish hospital (response rate 87·0%).

Results.  The percentage of nurses experiencing a sharp or needlestick injury during their professional life was 79·7%. The incidence of exposure to sharp or needlestick injury in the last year was 68·4%. The factors increasing the rate of sharp and needlestick injury were: age 24 years and less, ≤4 years of nursing experience, working in surgical or intensive care units and working for more than 8 hours per day (P < 0·05).

Conclusion.  The findings indicate which groups of staff should be targeted for educational programmes. Consideration also needs to be given to the unwanted effects of working long shifts, where tiredness may contribute to the number of needlestick injuries.