The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

5060.0: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 9:24 AM

Abstract #47306

Occupational health and safety issues for prison-based health care workers

Robyn R.M. Gershon, MHS DrPH1, Clifford Seth mitchell, MD MPH2, and Mary Kathleen Lears, MSN, MPH, RN2. (1) Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, 600 west 168th st, 4th floor, New York, NY 10032, 212 305-1186,, (2) Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, 7513-D, Baltimore, MD 21205

The unique work setting and the potential conflict inherent in “custody vs. care” issues, may present an increased risk for prison-based health care workers (HCWs) for a wide range of occupational health and safety hazards. We recently completed a large serosurvey and PPD reactivity study examining the infectious disease risk (HBV, HCV and TB) in prison-based HCWS (N=411). The results were as follows: HCWs had high rates of exposure, with 7% reporting at least one needlestick in the previous six months. Compliance with safe work practices was uneven, with workers generally poorly complying with the use of personal protective equipment. Safety needles were rarely available. The HBV/HCV rate of infection were 7% and 3% respectively. The rate for PPD reactivity was 16% (annual). Risk factors were related, in part, to workplace exposures, as well as to work practices. Participatory action research teams, comprised of both researchers and representatives of the study population, worked together to identify data-driven opportunities for improvement and risk reduction. Strategies focused on administrative control mechanisms (i.e., improvements in the infection control programs inside prisons), as well as on the introduction of engineering devices (i.e., safer needles) to reduce risk.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Occupational Safety, Infectious Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
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.

Safe Needles & Health Care Workers

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA