How Much do Needlestick Injuries Cost? A Systematic Review of the Economic Evaluations of Needlestick and Sharps Injuries Among Healthcare Personnel

Alice Mannocci, Gabriella De Carli, Virginia Di Bari, Rosella Saulle, Brigid Unim, Nicola Nicolotti, Lorenzo Carbonari, Vincenzo Puro, Giuseppe La Torre
  • Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, March 2016, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/ice.2016.48

What is it about?

Sustaining a needlestick injury represents a significant cost both for the exposed healthcare personnel (HCP) and for the healthcare organization where they perform their professional activity. Economic evaluations usually assess direct and indirect costs. Indirect costs refer to the time lost while reporting the injury, receiving post-exposure care and counselling, go through follow-up tests and visits, and maybe stay off work for some days because of psychological distress or illness. These are relatively consistent regardless of the setting, and account for 30 to 40% of overall costs. Direct costs refer to blood tests performed to the HCP and the source, drugs, vaccines and immune globulins administered as post-exposure prophylaxis, and visits if an external occupational health physician is needed. These may vary significantly according to the serostatus of the source, the immune status of the HCP, the adopted post-exposure protocol and available post-exposure prophylactic measures. The aggregate costs (direct+indirect) for managing a needlestick injury deriving from 14 international studies (modeling or data-driven) are around 650-750 Int$. The intangible costs may equal the costs for the medical evaluation of these injuries.

Why is it important?

The best preventative strategy incorporating administrative, behavioral, and technical interventions aiming to reduce the frequency of needlestick injuries requires significant investments of time, resources, and effort. However, economic efforts directed at preventing occupational exposures and infections, including provision of safety-engineered devices, may be offset by the savings from a lower incidence of needlestick injuries, and any investment of time and resources will eventually enhance healthcare personnel perception of their own value and positively affect the quality of the care they provide.


Dr Gabriella De Carli (Author)
National Institute for Infectious Diseases L. Spallanzani

In deciding the best strategy to prevent occupational injuries, health administrators wish to know the expected impact, costs and potential savings of each measure they may implement. We hope to have provided enough data and food for thought to help health employers and organizations to choose wisely and in perspective.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Gabriella De Carli