Analysis of occupational exposures among Emergency Department medical and nursing staff in a Victorian teaching hospital

Venkata L N Lavu 1, Mary O`Reilly, Carolyn Beckett, Leanne Houston

Eastern Health, 5 Arnold St, Box Hill VIC, Australia


Exposures to blood and body fluids in health care settings have the potential to transmit blood-borne viruses. The aims of this study is to ascertain the number of exposures to blood and body fluids (BBFE) over the last 2 years among nurses and doctors in our Emergency department, determine the rate of unreported exposures and ascertain the reasons for not reporting to the infection prevention and control unit (IPAC).

Anonymous Questionnaire was developed from an online survey site. The survey was emailed to 490 staff (330 nurses; 160 doctors) working in Emergency departments across Eastern Health. The survey period was between December 2015 and April 2016.

213/490 staff started and 202/490 (41%) completed the survey. 52/213(24%) staff sustained percutaneous exposures (PE) to BBFE in the last 2 years. Of these, 26/145(18%) were nurses and 26/70(37%) were doctors. 23/45(51%) staff did not report their PE to IPAC.

49/207 (24%) staff sustained BBFE to non-intact skin or mucous membranes. Of these, 31(21%) were nurses and 18(25%) were doctors. 37/46(80%) staff did not report their BBFE to IPAC. Of these, 23(16%) were nurses and 14 (20%) were doctors.
Perceived low risk exposure (54% nurses; 77% doctors) and perceived low risk patient (21% nurses; 61% doctors) were the main barriers for not reporting exposures.

Doctors sustained higher rates of percutaneous exposures and were less likely to notify our IPAC unit. All exposures should be treated as high risk. Staff should be encouraged to report and follow up on occupational exposures.

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