Bloodborne Pathogens: A Case Study

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Introduction
Every job has risks involved that have the potential to put the worker in danger. However big or small these dangers are, certain steps should be put in place to protect those who are exposed. In the medical field, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare personnel come into contact with blood on a daily basis. Although blood flows through every human body, harmful bacteria can lace itself into the blood stream and spread from person to person. Controlling these pathogens from spreading could save a life. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines bloodborne pathogens as “infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans.” Diseases included are hepatitis B, hepatitis
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Raising awareness to the disease would be the first step. Informing them of the potential risks involved in the workplace leads to a better understanding of the strict preventative measures in place. This can be done through signage, such as informative posters, or newsletters. Employees should also be aware of how to safely use and dispose of needles. Used needles should be immediately disposed of in an OSHA certified sharps container. The container should be closable, puncture-resistant, and leak-proof on the sides and bottom. It should also be accessible, maintained upright, and not allowed to overfill. Another method to control exposure to bloodborne pathogens would be to eliminate or reduce unnecessary needle use. An example of this would be transferring blood from a syringe to a test tube, as this is unnecessary in a laboratory setting. Many hospitals and healthcare systems have employed needle-free IV systems and sought out alternative routes for medication delivery and specimen collection. Devices such as these should be safety-engineered. Incorporating medical devices with a safety-engineered protection mechanism into the workplace would significantly impact exposure. Those who are exposed should follow safety procedures and use appropriate safety equipment. Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety goggles and surgical masks, could protect healthcare workers from a patient’s cough, spit, or vomit containing blood. Gloves should be worn to prevent exposure to broken skin on the hands. These items should be provided by the employer along with proper training, which leads to the next method for controlling exposure: education. Perhaps the most important step towards preventing the spread of bloodborne pathogens is education and specific training. Healthcare workers should be reviewed of new safety procedures and reminded of old ones. With the

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