Occupational Safety:

Selected Cost and Benefit Implications of Needlestick Prevention Devices for Hospitals

GAO-01-60R: Published: Nov 17, 2000. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 2000.

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Because of the serious concern for health care workers in the United States, GAO examined the benefit and cost implications of purchasing needlestick prevention devices for hospitals. GAO estimates about 69,000 needlesticks in hospitals can be prevented in 1 year through the use of needles with safety features. Eliminating these needlesticks could reduce the number of health care workers who become infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after sustaining a needlestick injury. GAO's analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that reducing needlesticks may prevent at least 25 cases of HBV and at least 16 cases of HCV infection per year. The reduction in the number of HIV infections cannot be estimated. GAO estimates that the cost to purchase needles with safety features would be between $70 million and $352 million per year. The exact cost to adopt these needles is difficult to determine because several factors must be considered, including the cost to train workers to use the devices and the extent to which the needles reduce injuries.

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