Bloodborne pathogens are disease-causing microorganisms transmitted through contact with infected blood or certain body fluids. Bloodborne pathogens include viruses such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Other bloodborne pathogens include bacteria, such as syphilis and Lyme disease, and parasites, such as malaria and toxoplasmosis.
These pathogens can be spread through various activities, including occupational exposure, needle-sharing, and sexual contact. For healthcare workers, the risk of exposure is even greater due to the nature of their work. Healthcare workers can come into contact with blood and other body fluids on a daily basis and are at risk of infection if proper precautions are not taken.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires healthcare facilities to implement an Exposure Control Plan (ECP) to protect workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. An ECP is a written document that outlines the facility’s policies and procedures for dealing with occupational exposures to blood and other potentially infectious materials. The plan should include information on how to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, and gowns, and how to safely handle, store, and dispose of contaminated materials.
In addition, healthcare facilities must train employees on recognizing and responding to potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This training should include information on the types of pathogens, how they are transmitted, and how to protect oneself from exposure. It should also provide information on the signs and symptoms of infection and what to do if an exposure occurs.
Healthcare workers must also practice good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission. This includes washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after any contact with blood and other body fluids. Healthcare workers should also practice good housekeeping by regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment.
Healthcare facilities must provide post-exposure care to employees who have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens. This includes providing counseling, evaluation for infection, and follow-up care. Healthcare workers must understand the importance of reporting exposures and seeking medical care as soon as possible. By taking the proper precautions, healthcare workers can protect themselves and their patients from the serious risks associated with exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Healthcare facilities must implement and maintain an Exposure Control Plan, provide adequate training and education, practice good hand hygiene and housekeeping, and provide post-exposure care to employees. These measures can help ensure the safety of healthcare workers and their patients.