Prevalence of percutaneous exposure incidents amongst dentists in Queensland, Australia

Leggat, P.A., and Smith, D.R. (2006) Prevalence of percutaneous exposure incidents amongst dentists in Queensland, Australia. Australian Dental Journal, 51 (2). pp. 158-161.

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Background: Percutaneous exposure incidents (PEI) represent an important occupational health issue in dentistry, and one that can incur severe consequences from blood-borne infections. Given the importance of this topic, we considered it necessary to investigate the distribution and cause of PEI among Queensland dentists.

Methods: In 2004, a self-reporting questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 400 dentists on the register of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Dental Association.

Results: A total of 285 questionnaires (73.1 per cent) were completed and returned. Of the respondents, 73.3 per cent were male and 26.7 per cent female, with a mean age of 45.2 years (SD = 11.9 years). Most were general dentists (89.1 per cent) with the remainder being specialists (10.9 per cent). More than three-quarters (78.5 per cent) reported damaging their gloves at least once during a clinical procedure in the previous 12-month period. Roughly one-quarter (27.7 per cent) had experienced at least one 'sharps' or needlestick injury in the previous 12 months, 16.1 per cent of which involved a contaminated instrument that had been previously used on a patient. The most common devices to cause 'sharps' injury in the previous 12 months were needles (14.4 per cent) and burs (10.2 per cent).

Conclusions: Although PEI clearly remains a major occupational health problem for Queensland dentists, the prevalence of needlestick injuries appears to be lower than other studies from developed countries. The identification of needle-stick injuries as a common cause of PEI again stresses the importance of preventive strategies with respect to potential blood-borne infections. Further research is now needed to more carefully identify effective measures for reducing PEI among dental personnel.

Item ID: 3709
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1834-7819
Keywords: occupational health; dentists; percutaneous injury; needlestick injury; international
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2009 01:28
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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