The phrase bloodborne pathogens are employed to describe the infectious microorganisms that have the capability of causing infectious diseases. Some examples of such bloodborne pathogens include but not limited to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV) as well as hepatitis C (HCV). In the clinical practice, today, healthcare workers experience a great risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) projects that approximately 5.6 million workers functioning in the healthcare industry and medical-related fields are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens (OSHA, 2017). This essay is a discussion of the primary risk factors that explain why persons working in the healthcare sector are at a major risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
Needle Stick Injuries Exposure
Needlestick injuries are considered to be the primary risk factors that contribute to the development of bloodborne pathogens-related injuries among todays healthcare workers. Based on a report by the United States National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, needle stick injuries are considered to be forms of injuries that are caused by clinical hypodermic needles (Goel, Kumar, Lingaiah, & Singh, 2017). Moreover, the blood collection needles, needles for connecting intravenous (IV) delivery parts as well as IV stylets are also categorized under the needle stick injuries (Goel, Kumar, Lingaiah, & Singh, 2017). Such are injuries that place healthcare workers at risk of attaining bloodborne pathogens in various medical institutions around the world.
In most cases, medical practitioners are mandated to administer a wide range of patient care services through the use clinical needles. This is particularly when administering intravenous drugs to patients visiting healthcare facilities for various forms of treatment. Consequently, there is an elevated risk of accidents that might occur to health care practitioners when administering intravenous drugs to patients with bloodborne pathogens. Additionally, in most cases, if such affected healthcare workers do not seek appropriate immediate intervention, such as treatment, they end up acquiring bloodborne pathogen-related diseases. Consequently, this could also result in the loss of their lives.
Percutaneous and Mucocutaneous Exposure
This is the second primary risk that exposes healthcare workers to the danger of contracting bloodborne pathogens from their patients. Normally, percutaneous exposure takes place when there is a break in the health care workers skin as a result of any sharp objects that could be employed in the treatment of patients. Also, if such skin breakages on the health care workers get in contact with the contaminated objects used to treat an infected person, it could result in their transmission of bloodborne diseases. On the other hand, mucocutaneous exposure takes place when the body fluids from an infected person get in contact with the open wounds of a healthcare worker. Additionally, the examples of such bodily fluids include saliva, tears, blood, and urine (Goel, Kumar, Lingaiah, & Singh, 2017).
In conclusion, a large number of persons working in the healthcare sector, today, are at a risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The OSHA estimates that approximately 5.6 million personnel is functioning in the healthcare sector at risk to exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Furthermore, the common forms of bloodborne pathogens in the healthcare settings, today, include the HIV, hepatitis B as well as hepatitis C. Additionally, the common hazards that expose healthcare personnel to bloodborne pathogens exposure include the existence of needlestick injuries as well as percutaneous and mucocutaneous exposure on the healthcare workers.
Goel, V., Kumar, D., Lingaiah, R., & Singh, S. (2017). Occurrence of Needlestick and Injuries among Health-care Workers of a Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital in North India. Journal of Laboratory Physicians, 9(1), 20-25. doi:10.4103/0974-2727.187917
OSHA. (2017). Projects that approximately 5.6 million workers functioning in the healthcare industry and medical-related fields are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Retrieved from United States Department of Labor: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/recognition.html
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