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Nonhospital health-care workers at substantial risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens
Date:12/20/2007

researchers found that 70% of the exposed nurses were never seen by a healthcare provider at all, even though appropriate and timely follow-up of these incidents can reduce the risk of infection. Findings from the study also suggest that many of the exposed nurses may be at increased risk of infection with serious bloodborne pathogens, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus and hepatitis B virus, since only 65% of these serious exposures were ever formally reported to the nurses administrator. Fear of getting into trouble, not having enough time to report, and not knowing how to report an exposure, were the three most common reasons given for not reporting.

According to Dr. Gershon, These exposures place them at risk of potential infection, therefore efforts to facilitate adequate post-exposure care must be made by administrators; fortunately, rapid access to post-exposure care may significantly help reduce the risk of infection.

The study also provided important information regarding the risk factors associated with these exposures, which have been well categorized for the hospital-based workforce. The researchers found similar risk factors in the non-hospital based nurses, including heavy patient loads, long working hours, poor safety climate, inadequate training and lack of safety devices. While the risk factors may be similar for both hospital-based and non-hospital based registered nurses, there are numerous barriers to effective infection control and safety programs in non-hospital settings, remarked Dr. Gershon. A large proportion (approximately one-third) of non-hospital RNs work in establishments with fewer than 100 employees, and a sizable percentage (16%) work in establishments with fewer than five employees. As a result, many of these facilities lack on-site infection control and employee health programs, observed Dr. Gershon and colleagues.

According to Dr. Gershon, With nearly 900,000 regis
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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