Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bloodborne Infectious Diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic

Exposures to blood and other body fluids occur across a wide variety of occupations. Health care workers, emergency response and public safety personnel, and other workers can be exposed to blood through needlestick and other sharps injuries, mucous membrane, and skin exposures. The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers are urged to take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids.

Universal Precautions for Preventing Transmission of Bloodborne Infections

 There are two tiers of Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC)/CDC precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents, Standard Precautions and Transmission-Based Precautions. Standard Precautions are intended to be applied to the care of all patients in all healthcare settings, regardless of the suspected or confirmed presence of an infectious agent. Implementation of Standard Precautions constitutes the primary strategy for the prevention of healthcare-associated transmission of infectious agents among patients and healthcare personnel. Transmission-Based Precautions are for patients who are known or suspected to be infected or colonized with infectious agents, including certain epidemiologically important pathogens, which require additional control measures to effectively prevent transmission. Since the infecting agent often is not known at the time of admission to a healthcare facility, Transmission-Based Precautions are used empirically, according to the clinical syndrome and the likely etiologic agents at the time, and then modified when the pathogen is identified or a transmissible infectious etiology is ruled out. Examples of this syndromic approach are presented in Table 2. The HICPAC/CDC Guidelines also include recommendations for creating a Protective Environment for allogeneic HSCT patients.

The specific elements of Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions are discussed in Part II of this guideline. In Part III, the circumstances in which Standard Precautions, Transmission-Based Precautions, and a Protective Environment are applied are discussed. See Tables 4 and 5 for summaries of the key elements of these sets of precautions.

Standard Precautions

Standard Precautions combine the major features of Universal Precautions (UP) 780, 896 and Body Substance Isolation (BSI) 640 and are based on the principle that all blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions except sweat, nonintact skin, and mucous membranes may contain transmissible infectious agents. Standard Precautions include a group of infection prevention practices that apply to all patients, regardless of suspected or confirmed infection status, in any setting in which healthcare is delivered (Table 4). These include: hand hygiene; use of gloves, gown, mask, eye protection, or face shield, depending on the anticipated exposure; and safe injection practices. Also, equipment or items in the patient environment likely to have been contaminated with infectious body fluids must be handled in a manner to prevent transmission of infectious agents (e.g. wear gloves for direct contact, contain heavily soiled equipment, properly clean and disinfect or sterilize reusable equipment before use on another patient).

The application of Standard Precautions during patient care is determined by the nature of the HCW-patient interaction and the extent of anticipated blood, body fluid, or pathogen exposure. For some interactions (e.g., performing venipuncture), only gloves may be needed; during other interactions (e.g., intubation), use of gloves, gown, and face shield or mask and goggles is necessary. Education and training on the principles and rationale for recommended practices are critical elements of Standard Precautions because they facilitate appropriate decision-making and promote adherence when HCWs are faced with new circumstances 655, 681-686. An example of the importance of the use of Standard Precautions is intubation, especially under emergency circumstances when infectious agents may not be suspected, but later are identified (e.g., SARS-CoV, N. meningitides). The application of Standard Precautions is described below and summarized in Table 4. Guidance on donning and removing gloves, gowns and other PPE is presented in the Figure. Standard Precautions are also intended to protect patients by ensuring that healthcare personnel do not carry infectious agents to patients on their hands or via equipment used during patient care.

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