78 Healthcare workers and bloodborne pathogen exposure incidents

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Healthcare workers are at risk of infection caused by bloodborne pathogens, particularly hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) due to sharps injuries and skin and mucous membrane contacts with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Our aim was to evaluate the reporting, management and consequences of bloodborne pathogen exposure incidents in healthcare workers.


The study included all healthcare workers of the largest University Medical Centre in Slovenia (UMCL) who reported bloodborne incidents and were treated from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2016 according to the guidelines. The data were collected from medical records.


The average number of employed healthcare workers was 5492. The mean incidence rate of annually reported and treated incidents was 2.22 per 100 health workers. Average annual injuries incidence rates were the highest at the Dental Clinic (9.83 per 100), Department of Surgery (2.86 per 100) and Department of Internal Medicine (2.25 per 100). Incidents occurred most frequently in nurse’s aides (5.79 per 100), followed by doctors (2.28 per 100) and nurses (1.69 per 100). The most common were sharps injuries (1.93 per 100), followed by contact of eye (0.11 per 100) and skin (0.04 per 100) with blood. The most frequent cause was contact when disposing of used needles (39.83%). Incidents most commonly happened on Fridays. Approximately 81% of exposed workers were vaccinated against HBV before the incident. Among the reported cases, one became HBsAg positive after the incident, while none of them was anti-HCV or anti-HIV reactive during the follow-up.


More work-related interventions are needed to prevent bloodborne incidents among healthcare workers. Therefore, we are developing an educational campaign to raise awareness of the importance of prevention, reporting and treating bloodborne exposure incidents and vaccination against HBV.

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