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Correctional Health Care Workers

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How can exposures to bloodborne diseases be lowered in correctional health care?

All health care workers are at risk of on-the-job exposure to bloodborne pathogens, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). But health care workers in correctional facilities face additional challenges:

  • jails and prisons can be unpredictable work settings,
  • security issues are often a higher concern than infection control, and
  • inmates may have a higher rate of bloodborne diseases.1

Correctional health care workers can be bitten or stabbed during an inmate assault, punctured with a used needle, or splashed in the face with blood. Exposures to bloodborne diseases can happen in any of these situations.

By visiting jails and prisons, NIOSH researchers learned more about practices and procedures being used to protect these health care workers from bloodborne diseases. Professional organizations and other government agencies also helped identify prominent problems within correctional health care. From these efforts, we noted many helpful work practices and some common areas for improvement for managers/administrators and frontline workers .

U.S. Department of Justice (Revised 2007) Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin: HIV in Prisons, 2004. Accessed August 29, 2007

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