Lessons learned: Protection of healthcare workers from infectious disease risks

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Objective:To summarize current concepts on preventing occupationally acquired infections in healthcare workers.Design:Review of the pertinent medical literature.Settings:Focus on healthcare workers practicing in acute care hospitals, especially intensive care units.Subjects:Healthcare workers.Measurements and Main Results:Key components of an effective infection control program include the following: 1) pre-exposure immunization with vaccines to prevent mumps, measles, rubella, varicella, pertussis, hepatitis B, and viral influenza; 2) adherence to standard precautions when providing patient care, especially the performance of hand hygiene before and after patient care; 3) rapid evaluation and initiation of appropriate isolation precautions for patients with potentially communicable diseases; 4) proper use of personal protective equipment such as masks, N95 respirators, eye protection, and gowns when caring for patients with potentially communicable diseases; and 5) evaluation of personnel with exposure to communicable diseases for receipt of postexposure prophylaxis.Conclusions:Risks of acquisition of infectious diseases by healthcare workers can be minimized by adherence to current infection control guidelines.

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