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Reducing risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens among healthcare workers employed in correctional facilities.

Lehman EJ; Gomaa A; Huy J
Am J Epidemiol 2005 Jun; 161(11)(Suppl):S82
The risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBP) among healthcare workers (HCWs) employed in the hospital setting has been well-documented. Current risk reduction methodologies are targeted to workers in that work setting. However, many HCWs employed outside of hospitals are also at risk of BBP exposure and the methodologies are not consistently applicable to other work settings. We examined one set of non-hospital HCWs, those employed in correctional reduction facilities, to determine adherence to, and the effectiveness of, current BBP risk reduction policies. We considered all existing data and obtained an assessment report from a working group of correctional healthcare "opinion leaders" that we assembled. With this background, we conducted site visits to a sample of correctional facilities in three states. Though the sample was small (n=8), we attempted to maximize geographic diversity and observe facilities of different size, security levels, and organizational structure. We conducted limited industrial hygiene surveyes at each site and conducted interviews (n=50) with CHCWs and management about BBP-related issues. No instances of actual BBP infection were reported during the interviews. No significant violations of BBP-related methodologies were detected during the industrial hygiene surveys. However, reports of true exposure incidents were common. Also, serveral key BBP risk reduction elements were ignored or found to be inadequate: annually updated exposure control plans were found in 50% of the facilities; adequate, annual training of employees at risk of BBP exposure was conducted in 37%; the managerial involvement of front-line workers in identifying, evaluating, and selecting effective engineering and work practice controls occurred in 12%. Our future research will examine why existing methodologies are not followed and evaluate health communication approaches to overcome identified barriers.
Bloodborne-pathogens; Health-care-personnel; Workers; Worker-health; Occupational-exposure; Correctional-facilities; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Health-care-facilities; Medical-facilities; Industrial-hygiene; Sampling; Exposure-assessment; Work-practices; Engineering-controls
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Infectious Diseases
Source Name
American Journal of Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division