Perceptions and practice of universal blood and body fluid precautions by registered nurses at a major Sydney teaching hospital

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Abstract

Perceptions and practice of universal blood and body fluid precautions by registered nurses at a major Sydney teaching hospital

Guidelines for universal blood and body fluid precautions (UBBFP) designed to protect health care workers from occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens have been developed by the US Centers for Disease Control.These guidelines have been adopted by the New South Wales Department of Health and all major Australian hospitals. To determine the degree of understanding and utilization of UBBFP by Australian nurses, 192 nurses were asked about UBBFP, recent occupational exposures and understanding of hepatitis B transmission. Seventy-three per cent of nurses stated they 'used UBBFP at all times', yet only 58% of these nurses stated they always used gloves when 'handling blood or blood equipment' and just 85% reported always using 'gloves to clean up urine and faeces'. Overall 146 (76%) nurses experienced 230 occupational exposures (168 mucocutaneous, 48 percutaneous) in the previous 6 months. These were more common in men (P = 0.024) and in operating theatres (95% of nurses) and high dependency units (88%). Percutaneous exposures were significantly more frequent in nurses who stated they did not wear gloves when handling blood/blood equipment (P = 0.036), whereas mucocutaneous exposures were significantly more frequent among nurses who stated they do not adhere to UBBFP at all times (P = 0.005). Eighty-three per cent of nurses experiencing exposures did not report all of them. In this study knowledge and adoption of UBBFP translated directly into lower risk for an occupational exposure. It is concluded that educational strategies to improve understanding and adoption of UBBFP by nurses are required.

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