alexa Epidemiology and prevention of blood and body fluid exposures among emergency department staff


Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs

Author(s): Janine Jagger, Robert D Powers, Juanita S Day, Don E Detmer, Beth Blackwell

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Emergency Department (ED) staff are vulnerable to occupational exposure to infectious blood and body fluids (BBF). Universal precautions are often ignored in the ED setting. Identification of body locations at high risk of BBF exposure may allow development of site specific protective garments that minimize risk and inconvenience. All permanent staff (92) in a 58,000 visit public university hospital ED with potential for BBF exposure were surveyed. Respondents estimated the number of BBF contacts sustained during the past year, describing their most recent contact in detail. Seventy-eight of 91 (85%) responded, reporting average rates of 54.1 intact skin, 1.5 nonintact skin, and .87 mucous membrane BBF contacts per full-time employee per year. Of the most recent incidents, 94% involved blood, 22% involved vomit or urine, and 11% involved saliva. Eighty-eight percent of BBF contacts were to unprotected skin or mucous membranes, either when no barrier was worn or at the gap between gloves and sleeves. Most (66%) were distal to the elbow; 13% involved the face. Use of long gloves or another continuous protective barrier from the fingers to the elbow, in addition to increased use of face masks or shields, would markedly reduce the rate of ED BBF contacts with a minimum of inconvenience.

This article was published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine and referenced in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs

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