February 1, 2017

The World Health Organization reports of the 35 million healthcare workers, 2 million experience percutaneous exposure to infectious diseases each year. Even with the best policies and precautions in place there are times in which an employee will be exposed to blood borne pathogens.

Human blood and other bodily fluids can contain blood borne pathogens that can cause serious diseases. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Exposures occur through needle sticks or cuts from sharp instruments contaminated with an infected patient’s blood or through contact of the eye, nose, mouth, or skin with a patient’s blood.

After an exposure occurs, the employee should immediately:

  • Wash needle sticks with copious amounts of soap and water
  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water
  • Irrigate eyes with clean water or sterile irrigates

They should then be evaluated by a health care provider to ascertain their risk level and any further testing that needs to be done.  The employer is required to obtain blood work immediately from the source, if known and with consent, per OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030 (f)(3)(A)).  Prompt source results give the treating healthcare professional and exposed employee the most options should post-exposure prophylaxis be needed. Additionally, a negative source ends the necessity of further testing, which can last many months, and provides peace of mind for the employee, employee’s family and you, the employer.

ExpressMed/BOAC can provide source testing as well as care for an individual who has had blood borne pathogen exposure.  Source testing that generates a negative result for infectious disease saves the employee/employer repeated visits to a provider for immunization and testing.   Taking a proactive approach by testing the source and employee may allow for this visit to be treated as First Aid under the NH Labor Department rules by eliminating multiple visits with treatment costing less than the $2,000 threshold.