A Healthcare Worker’s Guide to Avoiding Blood Borne Infections at Work

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When you go into the health field you are more than likely to go through bloodborne pathogen training. You will be taught how to avoid contamination while cleaning up and treating patients.

All of these lessons go out the window, however, if you don’t put it into practice.

You’ll need to wear the right equipment, keep yourself clean, dispose of blood pathogens properly, and know the process you need to go through if you are contaminated.

In this article, we’re going to go through these steps in a little more detail so you stay knowledgeable, of bloodborne infections and stay safe while working in the medical office.

1. How do Bloodborne Infections Spread 

The most common way for bloodborne infections to spread is through sexual contact or drug IVs. These might not be things you have to worry about at a medical clinic, but any contact with blood or human bodily fluid poses a threat if it’s infected. 

The clinic that you work at will be required to give you all the information that you need on this subject so you can avoid it. 

2. How to Avoid These Pathogens 

The information that you’re given will show you how to avoid these pathogens and keep yourself safe. You’ll need to do a mixture of all these things to ensure you aren’t infected. 

Your Attitude

If you don’t proceed with caution and wave infection off like it’s no big deal, then you may become exposed because you let your guard down. You need to treat all and any blood and bodily fluids like they may be contaminated. 

 Use the Right Equipment

The next step in ensuring you aren’t infected is to use the right equipment to handle patients and clean up. We’re going to briefly go over these different pieces of equipment.

  • Gloves and gowns- gloves and gowns should be worn to protect your hands and skin from any blood or fluids. All it takes is for a little bit of contaminated blood to get into a cut on your hand. 
  • Face shield- face shields aren’t just for dentists, they are for any doctor who works in an environment where they may be exposed to bodily fluids. A mask will keep these fluids from getting into your body via your nose or mouth. 
  • Pocket Mask- a pocket mask is used to perform CPR. Instead of doing mouth-to-mouth the way you see it done in the movies by physically putting your mouth to the patient’s, you use the mask.  

Stay Clean

OSHA requires that you are given access to cleaning stations. A supervisor will be able to point these washing stations out to you if you aren’t sure where they are. These stations will be essential in keeping you safe from infection. 

Before and after you see each patient you should wash your hands, even if you wear gloves. If you suspect that you’ve been contaminated, use soap and water to vigorously clean the area.

Giving you access to cleaning stations aren’t the only ways that OSHA keeps you safe. Read more now to see other ways OSHA is working to cut down your risk for infections. 

Dispose of it Correctly

In your training, you will also be taught how to properly dispose of anything that has been contaminated with bodily fluids. It’s essential that you use what you were taught. 

Most clinics have an area where each trash container is labeled with what should be thrown away in it. For the things that aren’t thrown away, make sure they are sanitated properly and put in their place.

Before you leave an area be sure any tables that these instruments were laying on are disinfected as well. 

Also, each time you visit a new patient you will put on a fresh pair of gloves and a new face mask and dispose of the old ones.

3. How You Could Become Infected 

There are several ways that you could be infected, and not all of them are entirely your fault. You could be stuck with a contaminated needle on accident. If something in the room is broken and you don’t notice it, you could become infected with a broken glass.  

If someone didn’t clean their instruments properly and you reach to get it, you could be contaminated. This is why you want to go through a proper cleaning process with each piece of equipment. 

You could accidentally inhale particles when working with a patient who has a bad cough or suddenly sneezes. Which is why the face mask is so important. You could forget that you’ve touched contaminated instruments and put your hands to your mouth or nose. 

4. What to Do if You Are Exposed 

Despite all your caution, you may accidentally become exposed when you get caught up in an emergency situation. If you suspect that you have been exposed there are a few things you need to do to make sure you keep yourself safe or don’t spread it around to anyone else.

First, going back to cleaning, you need to be sure you scrub the area with soap and water. If the area that is infected is an open wound squeeze your wound to make it bleed a little before you clean it.

After you’ve done this notify your supervisor so they can file the correct paperwork and then see a physician.  

How to Avoid Bloodborne infections

Even the most cautious of people can become exposed to bloodborne infections. There are things that you can do that will decrease your chance. These steps will be taught to you during your training. Save as many lives as you can, including yours.

No matter what sort of job you do, it’s important that you always take care of yourself. Visit our positivity & self-care archives for more ways on how.