Manual accidents, biological risk control, and quality indicators at a children’s hospital in north-east Italy

Sergio Parco, Fulvia Vascotto, Roberto Simeone, Patrizia Visconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Working in health care carries the risk of transmission of infected blood to patients by hospital workers and to other health personnel in the form of occupational infections. Conscientious application of the standard precautions is the main method used to avoid needle stick injuries, contamination of skin and mucous membranes, cuts with sharp tools, and inadequate disposal and recapping of needles. The aim of this work was to investigate in Friuli Venezia Giulia, a region in north-east Italy, the enhancement carried out to prevent situations of biologic risk for health care workers, and to verify the related laboratory analyses. Methods: Biological accidents occurring during the years 2012-2013 in the departments of oncology and pediatric-obstetric surgery, and in the intensive care unit at Burlo Garofolo Children’s Hospital in Trieste (a large town in Friuli Venezia Giulia) were reviewed, and a new panel of tests was introduced for patients and health care workers, to also detect human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and aspartate transaminase and immunoglobulin G. All tests were submitted for external quality assessment. Results: In total, 230 nosocomial events were reported by health care workers in the above-mentioned hospital departments in 2012-2013. There were 158 accidents in 2012, including 55 accidental needle stick injuries (34.81%), 59 blood splashes (37.34%), and 44 cuts with infected instruments (27.84%). The risk of sustaining a cut was related to movement error during surgery when the appropriate procedure was not followed or when devices were being assembled and passed between doctors and nurses. Most accidents happened among physicians compared to nurses; the high percentage of needle stick injuries (34.81%) versus nurses (25.94%) were due to incorrect recapping of needles after use. No cases of health care workers being infected with HCV, HBV, or HIV were identified. In 2013, the number of biological accidents decreased to 61, comprising two needle stick injuries (3.27%), 35 blood splashes (57.37%), and 25 cuts with contaminated instruments (40.98%). The number of subcutaneous abscesses with scarring resulting from cuts with sharp instruments decreased from three in 2012 (one of which was the subject of medicolegal proceedings) to none in 2013. Although our study population was relatively small, we did detect a statistically significant decrease in the number of needle stick injuries (P2 test). Conclusion: In this early experience at a maternal and child health institution in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, application of a safety protocol, centralized organization of HIV tests, improved external quality assessment, and introduction of internal quality control for immunoglobulin G contributed to a decrease in the number of work-related biological accidents and their complications, which have the potential to result in medicolegal problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
Publication statusPublished - Apr 13 2015


  • Health care workers
  • Intensive care
  • Manual accidents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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