Characterisation of occupational blood and body fluid exposures beyond the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act

Green-McKenzie, J. et al. (2016) Journal of Infection Prevention17 (5). pp. 226-232

Objective: To describe the use of mandated safety engineered sharps devices (SESDs) and personal protective equipment in healthcare workers (HCWs) with occupational body fluid exposures (BFE) since the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act.

Methods: Two questionnaires were administered, over 3 years, to HCWs who reported sharps or splash BFEs. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis were used.

Results: Of the 498 questionnaires completed, nurses completed 262 (53%), house staff 155 (32 %), technicians 63 (13%) and phlebotomists 11 (2%). Four (1%) completers reported ‘other’ and three (1%) reported unknown. Sharps injuries accounted for 349 (70%) of the BFEs. SESDs were utilised 43% (128/299) of the time with a 54% (70/130) activation rate. Phlebotomists (80%; 8/10) and nurses (59%; 79/267) used SESDs more than doctors (27%; 31/86) and technicians (26%; 10/39) (P <0.0001). Fifty-four percent (185/207) of HCWs reported having had training on SESD use; nurses (64%; 98/154) and phlebotomists (70%; 7/8) significantly more so than house staff (44%; 59/133) and technicians (44%; 21/48) (P <0.05). Most splash BFEs were to the eyes 73% (91/149). Five percent (4/79) of HCWs used protective eyewear.

Conclusions: Systematic regular training, appropriate protocols and iteratively providing the safest SESDs based on HCW experience and technological advances will further reduce the physical and emotional toll of BFEs.

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