There are enough movies out there to prove to you that biohazards are no joke. It’s even more true when you’re working in a hospital environment.
Bacteria, bloodborne pathogens, and other biohazards are par for the course when working in healthcare. Your medical team needs to know how to properly handle and dispose of this infectious material to maintain a safe work environment.
Do you have bloodborne pathogens training in place to handle them? Are your employees getting the proper medical training on how to handle these substances? It should be. And if they aren’t, we are here to help.
Today, we’re going to go over the five critical factors of bloodborne pathogen treatment. These are things that your training program should cover. It’s the best way to maximize hospital safety.
Let’s get started.
Bloodborne Pathogens 101
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms found in the blood. They can be responsible for some pretty serious illnesses and diseases. HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are just a few of the bloodborne pathogens hospital workers need to guard against.
Any place you work within the healthcare industry needs to have a bloodborne pathogen exposure plan in place. OSHA requires it, which means it’s the law. The plan should describe the recommended procedure in the event of exposure.
It also should outline how your employer plans to use accessory treatments. This means work practice controls, personal protective gear, and clothing, vaccinations, etc. The most effective method is going to be the workplace controls your employer implements.
These workplace controls typically include capillary tubes, needleless vaccines, and the use of safer medical devices.
Bloodborne Pathogens Training Tips
We’re sure your workplace has a bloodborne pathogens plan. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to improve it. We’re going to give you a list of things to consider below.
You may want to bring them up at your next meeting. The hospital administration may see some changes that need to happen. Here we go.
1. Notify Your Staff
If you are working within a hospital or healthcare system, there is the potential to be exposed. However, hospital administration should be taking extra steps to notify certain individuals.
Anybody who’s job description requires them to be in close contact with patients’ blood should get an additional notification. The nurses and orderlies who are working with patients daily should have input into the exposure plan.
The positions with a higher level of exposure are handling blood or bodily fluids, positions that do dental work, performing invasive procedures, giving injections, and handling biomedical waste.
2. Never Be Too Safe
You can never be too safe when it comes to dealing with bloodborne pathogens—safer equipment, workplace controls, as well as detailed procedures all help.
It’s best to assume that everything is infectious. Outfit your workplace and staff accordingly. OSHA will provide copies of the workplace controls handbook that should be located in your manager’s or supervisor’s office.
One of the best workplace controls you can do is continually washing your hands. If your workplace facility doesn’t have soap and running water available, some mobile hand sanitizing stations should be provided.
Another way your employer can make the workplace safer is through engineering controls. Any mechanical or structural device that can be used to increase workplace safety is considered an engineering control. This includes eye washing stations, sharps containers, red bags, and places where employees can wash their hands.
Your hospital should also have standard operating procedures to minimize contamination in general. This covers the hospital cleaning procedures for hospital surfaces. It also applies to all hospital equipment.
Any cleaning or janitorial staff should be wearing PPE and using appropriate cleaners when cleaning hospital surfaces. Cleaning staff can use an approved commercial cleaner. They can also use a 1:10 ratio bleach solution.
3. Personal Protective Equipment
It’s the hospital’s job to provide personal protective equipment (PPE). This means gloves, lab coats, gowns, scrubs, etc. It can also apply to any medical face coverings as well.
It’s the employer’s job to purchase and maintain this equipment.
The purpose of this equipment is to prevent certain employees from coming in contact with bloodborne pathogens. PPE is worn, in particular, by staff members who work closely with blood and other bodily fluids.
Employees should wear and handle these pieces of equipment with extreme care. Proceed carefully if you happen to see blood on a piece of PPE you’re wearing.
The first step is to check to see if you currently have any cuts, scrapes, scratches, or any other areas where your skin may not be intact. Second, it’s your job to prevent blood spread to other people or other surfaces. The best way to do this is to remove your PPE by turning it on the wrong side.
It would be best if you took off the PPE before you leave the area where you’re working. After that, you need to discard the PPE in that same area.
4. Implement A Vaccination Program
It’s also a good idea to implement an employee vaccination program. Employees should have the opportunity to take vaccines for the various pathogens they encounter.
It is important to note that a Hepatitis B vaccine is mandatory for all employees. They must take the vaccine within ten days of being hired and completing bloodborne pathogen training.
It’s important to keep track of which employees have received which vaccines. Everyone responds differently to vaccinations. An example would be the Hepatitis B vaccine.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is a series of 3 shots. Normally, the vaccine is 80-100% effective. In fact, it can even cause lifelong immunity in some patients. However, some people can be non-responders to the vaccine.
Non-responders who, after three full courses of vaccinations, still don’t develop enough antibodies against the virus. These people only represent about 5-15% of the population, but it’s important to know that it’s possible.
External factors can also be the cause of non-response. A person’s age, weight, smoking, genetic determination, chronic disease, vaccine schedule, and injection site.
5. Label Hazards
Areas housing biological material that could be hazardous need to be labeled. Any containers holding waste should be properly labeled. This also pertains to refrigerators.
Labels should also be on any waste receptacles that contain used “sharps.” This means needles and other medical equipment.
We’ve gone over how to handle bloodborne pathogen exposure. But what happens next? Well, preventing exposure is the most important part of the process. It’s the most effective way to prevent an occupationally acquired disease or sickness.
But, in the case of exposure, you need a plan. Most hospitals have something called Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) as part of this plan.
PEP involves using antiretroviral medication to prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens after an incident. More specifically, HIV. OSHA requires that all PEP plans include the administration of three or more antiretroviral drugs.
This PEP treatment starts as soon as possible after exposure and typically lasts twenty-eight days.
After PEP, an employee will go through a post-exposure evaluation. One of the reasons for this is that bloodborne pathogen exposure qualifies as a workers’ compensation injury.
Part of your unit supervisor’s duty is to contact the workers’ compensation provider shortly after the incident. Your supervisor needs to let them know exactly what happened. They also need to request an immediate medical evaluation for you, the employee.
All hospital staff must treat bloodborne pathogen exposure as an urgent medical situation, especially in HIV exposure. PEP needs to start as soon after the incident as possible. There’s no time to waste.
After handling the immediate threat, there may be additional follow-up for you to do. This is usually handled by a supervisor. If you’re a supervisor and you’re unaware of what the follow-up procedure should be, get in touch with management or hospital administration.
Ready For Anything
Those are the five best tips for the treatment of bloodborne pathogens. Chances are, your hospital is already covering these items. If they’re not, it may make sense to discuss adding them on.
Bloodborne pathogens are nothing to be taken lightly. It’s easy to relax procedures when you’re working in a hospital every day. You may feel like there’s no way to avoid them, that they’re just part of the job.
While that may be true, you still need to be on your A-game when it comes to planning for and preventing contamination. It takes every employee to be vigilant to keep the workplace as safe as possible.
For more information and bloodborne pathogen training, contact The team at hipaaexams.com .