Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure (BBPE)
Bloodborne Pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood or other potentially infectious materials and can cause disease in humans. Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures (BBPEs) are the most common cause of injury at Texas Health.
These injuries include exposures from needlesticks, splashes, and sharps – other than needles such as scalpels. In 2020, Texas Health employees reported an average of one (1) BBPE every 37 hours and in 2021, the reported average was one (1) BPPE every 33 hours which represents an increase of 13% in BPPEs.
BBPEs carry the risk of infection from bloodborne pathogens, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). According to OSHA, every year health care workers experience between 600,000 and 800,000 exposures to blood*.
While these exposures are one of the most deadly hazards that health care workers face on a daily basis, it is also one of the most preventable. According to the CDC, over 80% of needlestick injuries can be prevented**.
Even with all of the progress that has been made in the last few years, you still probably know at least one colleague who has sustained an injury, or perhaps sustained one yourself.
Use the following guidelines*** to protect yourself and others from BBPE:
- Avoid the use of needles when safe and effective alternatives are available.
- Use devices with safety features provided.
- Avoid recapping needles.
- Wear all required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Plan for safe handling and disposal before beginning any procedure using needles or sharps.
- Dispose of used needles promptly in appropriate sharps disposal containers.
- Report all needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate follow-up care and find ways to prevent future needlesticks.
- Report hazards from needles or sharps that you observe in your work environment to your manager, Employee Health, or through the Reliability Learning tool.
- Help suggest and evaluate devices with safety features to your manager, Employee Health, or through the Reliability Learning tool.
- Participate in bloodborne pathogen training and follow recommended infection prevention practices, including getting all Texas Health required vaccinations.
- Comply with the Texas Health Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan.
- American Nurses Association’s Needlestick Prevention Guide
- NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Needlestick injuries in Health Care Setting
- American Nurses Association, “Needlestick Prevention Guide,” 2004. http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-Environment/SafeNeedles/NeedlestickPrevention.pdf
- Foley, Mary and Leyden, Annemarie T., “American Nurses – Independent Study Module Needlestick Safety and Prevention,” http://www.who.int/occupational_health/activities/1anaism.pdf
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “NIOSH Alert: Preventing Needlestick Injuries in Health Care Settings.” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000.108.