Background: An estimated 800,000 occupational exposures to blood or at-risk biological substances occur annually in the U.S. from needle sticks, other sharp injuries, mucous membrane and skin exposures, and human bites. The crude estimate of potential bloodborne pathogen (BBP) exposures in the healthcare industry is primarily extrapolated from hospital-based surveillance systems using convenience samples that self select to participate.
Methods: We characterized occupational body fluid exposures treated in emergency departments (EDs) in 1998 as captured in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a probability-based sample of U. S. EDs.
Results: We estimate that 70,000 BBP exposures were treated nationally in EDs in 1998. Of these, 77% were from hospitals, 16% from non-hospital-based healthcare industries, 2% from law enforcement, and 5% from other industries. Exposures differed by industry: in hospitals, 74% were needle sticks and 15% were mucous membrane and skin exposures; whereas in emergency medical services, 41% were needle sticks and 46% were mucous membrane and skin exposures; and in law enforcement, 23% were needle sticks and 59% were mucous membrane and skin exposures.
Discussion: In comparison with overall national estimates about 10% of BBP exposures were treated in ED. If the ED-treated BBP exposures are representative, national estimates from extrapolation of hospital-based exposures by two-fold to account for non-hospital-based exposures overestimates this segment of exposed workers. We are conducting further research to characterize ED-treated BBP exposures and the reasons that treatment is received in this medical venue.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to: 1. Recognize the magnitude of occupational potential bloodborne pathogen exposures in the United States. 2. Articulate characteristics of occupational potential bloodborne pathogen exposures treated in emergency departments by industry. 3. Identify further needs for surveillance and epidemiological studies for occupational bloodborne pathogen exposures
Keywords: Health Care Workers, HIV/AIDS
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA