Bloodborne pathogens spread disease by contaminating blood and other body fluids. Various types of pathogens can contaminate blood. So the major ones are microorganisms and non-living infectious agents. Microorganisms include bacteria and parasites, while non-living infectious agents include viruses. So the three major bloodborne pathogens are all viruses. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers HIV, hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C to be particularly risky for health workers.
People can contract a lot of bloodborne diseases through other means. So these include unsafe sexual behavior and intravenous drug use. Bloodborne pathogens have also affected many sports players. It is difficult to determine what pathogens are present in any given blood sample. Because some bloodborne infections are deadly, standard medical practice considers all blood (and any other body fluids) to be potentially infectious. Blood and Body Fluid Precautions are a form of infection control practice. These practices aim to prevent disease transmission through bodily fluids.
Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens
Needlestick injuries pose the biggest threat to health in a laboratory or clinical setting. Especially when there is a lack of suitable needle disposal practices and/or safety syringes. Nurses, surgeons, laboratory assistants, doctors, phlebotomists, and laboratory technicians are among the people who are most at risk. These roles often require the use of syringes to draw blood or to administer medications.
To decrease the risk of employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established five guidelines that must be followed by a healthcare facility. They are as follows:
- Documented exposure control plan
- Engineering controls (Sharps containers, detachable and retractable needles, syringe caps, etc.)
- Safe Work Practices and Safety Devices
- Hepatitis B vaccine availability to employees
- Education and post-exposure follow up
While these measures are broad, they help to significantly limit the incidence of blood-borne disease transmission among healthcare professionals in the workplace.
Healthcare workers expose themselves to as many as 26 different viruses in the course of their duty. Bloodborne pathogens most frequently cause Hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Exposure is possible through the blood of an infected patient splashing onto mucous membranes. However, the greatest exposure risk was shown to occur during percutaneous injections performed for vascular access. Blood draws and catheter implantation is examples of these, as both require hollow bore needles. To avoid occupational exposure, standard measures (handwashing, sharps disposal containers) are utilized in conjunction with supplementary education.
Personal Protective Equipment
Health care workers who take basic measures may decrease their risk of blood-borne virus exposure. But high-quality gloves, impermeable gowns, and face shields aren’t enough. Gloves seldom stop needle punctures (although they may reduce the volume of blood that reaches the skin). When needles are mishandled or discarded irresponsibly, the main provider puts others in danger, especially environmental services workers. Although it was formerly customary to leave needles lying in patient care areas, most hospitals today have puncture-proof needle disposal systems. Using needleless ports and combining blood draws may minimize the risk of needle puncture. Blood culture contamination is not reduced by replacing needles, but by increasing the risk of harm. Intravenous systems and venipuncture devices have become safer because of so-called technical interventions, and a range of shielded or needleless devices are now commercially accessible.
If Exposed To Bloodborne Pathogens
In an exposure incident, you’ve come into touch with blood or other potentially contagious body fluids. Try not to panic, and make sure you wash all of your hands completely. Report to your supervisor immediately. Explain to your supervisor, when, where, and with whom you had contact with any type of blood. However, medical treatment should be sought if you’ve been engaged in an exposure event. Treatment, testing, and education will be provided by a medical expert.
The signs and symptoms of blood-borne infections vary according to the type of disease and the immune system’s capacity to fight it off. In the majority of cases, hepatitis B does not require treatment and the body is capable of fighting it off on its own. However, in certain patients, a chronic infection might develop, resulting in liver damage. There is a vaccine available that will protect you from contracting the illness. Hepatitis C generally presents with minor signs and symptoms. It may take two weeks to six months following exposure for symptoms to manifest, or there may be none at all. Needlestick injuries are the most prevalent way for health care workers to become exposed.
Bloodborne pathogens program
OSHA began requiring companies with workers possibly exposed to blood or other infectious materials to create a bloodborne pathogens policy in 1991. A bloodborne pathogens program protects employees against health risks. However, bloodborne pathogens programs provide treatment and counseling.