Occupational Blood Exposures (OBEs) are a significant occupational hazard in the healthcare sector. This study aimed to assess the practice of reporting OBEs among healthcare workers (HCWs), namely doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants (HCAs), and if there is a difference in the reporting practice between these groups. Whether a HCWs knowledge of the risks associated with an OBE, such as the risk of transmission of various blood borne viruses, has an influence on their likelihood to report an OBE was also considered.Methods
A questionnaire was distributed to all Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs), all nurses and all HCAs working in a large tertiary hospital. The survey was in both paper and electronic format. It assessed both the individuals past exposures and knowledge of the associated risks.Results
Of the study participants, 25.4% were doctors, 63.3% were nurses and 11.2% were HCAs. 17.8% had experienced an OBE in the previous 12 months. Doctors accounted for the largest group, with 42% having a recent exposure. Doctors were also significantly less likely than their nursing and HCA colleagues to report an OBE, with 73.9% having an unreported exposure in the previous 12 months.Results
Two of four questions assessing the healthcare workers knowledge of the risks of OBEs showed a statistically significant difference in the knowledge across the three groups, with both doctors and nurses displaying a greater knowledge than HCA’s.Discussion
The true prevalence of OBEs in healthcare workers is likely significantly higher than reported. The main reasons identified for not reporting exposures were due to the HCW risk assessing the injury themselves, and deeming it not significant. This study supports the hypothesis that there is a relationship between the knowledge a HCW has on the risks associated with OBE’s and their likelihood to report an exposure, however further research is required in order to quantify the magnitude of this relationship.