Effective methods in reducing the number of occupational exposures in a health care setting

Ana Suto 1, Louise Hobbs 1

1The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parville, VIC, Australia


Melbourne Health (MH) embarked on a process to reduce occupational exposures due to continually not meeting the Victorian Blood Exposure Surveillance (ViBES) (2010) aggregate rate of 0.52 per 1000 occupied bed days for total occupational exposures. Safety engineered devices and various campaigns were implemented to combat this issue.

A review of the data was undertaken to identify the types and locations where exposures were occurring. Key activities identified in the ward environment were blood taking, giving subcutaneous injections and point of disposal. The main area outside of the wards was the operating room (OR). A number of targeted interventions were introduced to reduce incidents that included caddies (point of disposal), safety vacutainer blood collection system, retractable subcutaneous needles, personal protective equipment awareness and review of OR incidents applying human error theory factors.

From January 2012 to June 2015 the following reductions were noted; occupational exposures associated with venepuncture reduced from 22 to 12 (54% reduction), point of disposal fell from 74 to 2 (81% reduction) and subcutaneous needle incidents went from 13 in January 2015 to 6 (46% reduction). Reviewing the OR incidents using human factor theory identified fatigue as being the main contributing factor predominantly associated with suture needles (42%). OR numbers continue to be reported on average of 5 per month.
Introduction of a number of strategies has reduced our overall occupational exposures from 253 in 2009 to 138 in 2015. Our next area of focus will be to reduce our operating room exposures.

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