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January 1, 1992

Needlestick Injury Associated With Venipuncture

Author Affiliations

The New York (NY) Hospital-Cornell Medical Center

JAMA. 1992;267(1):54. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480010062017

To the Editor.  —Accidental needlestick exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during venipuncture has been attributed to recapping or disposal of needles,1 inexperience,2 and failure to take recommended precautions.3 Herein we report that experienced personnel are at risk of needlestick exposure even under apparently low-risk conditions.Over the past 5 years, we have been studying the psychological and behavioral effects of HIV testing and counseling.4 Before engaging in our study, three nurse venipuncturists received extensive training in the procedures and recommended precautions for avoiding needlestick injury. The nurses were aware that there was no urgency in obtaining the blood samples either at entry or at follow-up assessments. They also knew that subjects were at high risk for HIV infection: of 702 adults, 247 (35%) were HIV positive.Nevertheless, after the nurses had worked in the study for at least 6 months, four accidental needlestick exposures occurred.