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September 19, 1990

Needle Sticks in Phlebotomists: Too Much Ado About a Rare Event

Author Affiliations

Grady Memorial Hospital Atlanta, Ga

Grady Memorial Hospital Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1990;264(11):1408-1409. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450110054018

To the Editor.—  Dr Pate1 pointed out that the "continuing debate in regard to the magnitude of risks to health care workers involved in treating patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome frequently generates dogmatic opinions unsupported by fact." The same can be said for some human immunnodeficiency virus-releated govenmental regulations that are directed at phlebotomists.The major risk for transmission of blood-borne infections during blooddrawing procedures is due to needle sticks, which glove use cannot prevent.2,3 Despite this, proposed Occupational Safety and Health Aministration guidelines require gloves for all phlebotomists for all procedures where exposure to blood is possible.4 This proposal ignores recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that skilled phlebotomists be given the choice of whether or not to wear gloves.5 Phlebotomy rarely involves worker contact with body fluids, except when the employee is inexperienced or has sores or dermatologic conditions of the hands; in