Healthcare Workers in Non-Hospital Settings at Substantial Risk of Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Source: At the Frontline, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Vol. 3 no. 1, February 2008

In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers from the Mailman School assessed the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens among non-hospital based registered nurses (RNs), and found that nearly one out of ten of the more than 1,100 nurse participants reported at least one needlestick injury in the previous 12 months. Findings of the study are published in the December issue of Industrial Health.

According to Robyn Gershon, DrPH, professor of Sociomedical Sciences and the study’s principal investigator, “These rates of exposure are surprising since they are similar to rates reported for hospital-based nurses, even though hospitalized patients generally have high levels of acuity of patient care (i.e., more procedures, including more invasive procedures), than are typically performed in community healthcare settings.” But, as Dr. Gershon and colleagues point out, these findings are not completely unexpected since patient care, including more complex types of care, is increasingly delivered at non-hospital based healthcare facilities, including out-patient clinics, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, patients’ homes, and public health clinics.

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