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Too many workers still exposed to bloodborne viruses

Posted in: Employer Negligence Medical Negligence 

Recent figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have revealed that there were 541 reports of needlestick injuries that exposed workers in the healthcare sector to patients carrying bloodborne viruses in 2011. This is double the amount compared to a decade ago (2002), when 271 exposures were reported.

Since the HPA’s previous report, which presented data until the end of 2007, a further 2,039 occupational exposures to known bloodborne virus carriers have been reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Between 2008 and 2011 there were five patient to healthcare worker transmissions of hepatitis C virus in the UK (three in England and two in Scotland). The total number of reported hepatitis C cases in healthcare workers now stands at 20 (17 in England and three in Scotland). Eight of the cases in England occurred after the medical procedure, and most of them could have been prevented with adherence to standard infection control precautions for the safe handling and disposal of clinical waste.

Dr Fortune Ncube, an expert in bloodborne viruses at the HPA said:

“These documented cases of patient to healthcare worker hepatitis C infections are a stark reminder that occupational exposures can result in bloodborne virus infections.

“Our report also re-emphasises the need for healthcare service providers to ensure that all healthcare professionals are adequately trained on how to prevent injuries, and that appropriate Occupational Health services are in place for the prompt, effective and appropriate management of such incidents.”


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