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Reducing occupational exposures to bloodborne viruses

Posted in: Medical Negligence Workplace Injuries 

There were 541 reports of needle stick injuries that exposed healthcare workers to patients carrying bloodborne viruses in 2011, twice as many as a decade ago (2002) when 271 exposures were reported.

The figures come from the Health Protection Agency’s fourth Eye of the Needle report, which includes occupational exposures to bloodborne viruses in healthcare workers reported by hospitals through the HPA’s enhanced surveillance system. These reports are only a fraction of needle stick injuries that would have occurred.

Since the previous report, which presented data until the end of 2007, a further 2,039 occupational exposures to known bloodborne virus carriers have been reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Most of these exposures occurred in the ward, theatre, Intensive Care Unit and Accident and Emergency setting, and a major proportion, such as those attributed to non-compliance with the safe handling of sharps and the disposal of clinical waste, were preventable.


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