At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- Define "bloodborne pathogens"
- Describe common methods of transmission
- Identify risks of exposure
- Describe methods of prevention
- List what to do if exposed
The following key questions are answered in this module:
What is a bloodborne pathogen?
A very tiny organism in blood that can cause infections.
Are bloodborne pathogens in other bodily fluids as well?
Yes, some may also be present in other bodily fluids, including other bodily fluids contaminated with blood, fluid around the lungs, heart, and joints, and sexual fluids (including semen and vaginal fluids).
What are some examples of bloodborne pathogens?
There are many, but some of the most notable are Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that can lead to AIDS.
What are some ways people can be infected with a bloodborne pathogen?
People may be infected through puncture wounds caused by infected objects, such as medical needs; contact between infected body fluids and mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, and mouth; and contact between infected body fluids and damaged skin, including cuts, scrapes, open sores, and acne.
Can you get infected by a bloodborne pathogen while doing common everyday things such as shaking hands?
The chances of this are very low or non-existent.
What are the best ways to avoid being infected with a bloodborne pathogen?
Don't come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids; practice preventive housekeeping and work practices; use protective barriers, such as latex surgical gloves, when handling potentially infected materials; use proper hygiene practices; dispose of potentially contaminated waste materials immediately and properly.
What should I do if I think I've been exposed?
Wash the skin with soap and water; flush area with water for at least 15 minutes; remove all contaminated clothing; report the incident to your supervisor; and get proper medical care.
Are "pinprick" or "needlestick" injuries from medical injections a particular problem?
Yes, they are. People working in health industries should be especially careful.
Are "sharps" used by diabetics and others a concern?
Yes, you could get a bloodborne pathogen from a contaminated sharp. If you use a sharp, always dispose of them properly. And be careful when doing something in an area where a dirty sharp may have been wrongly disposed of, such as in the trash container of a restroom.
Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:
Bloodborne pathogens can be present in body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluids, fluids surrounding the lungs, heart, and joints, and any body fluid contaminated with blood. You can get infected through sexual contact, sharing syringes or other needles, puncture wounds from contaminated medical needles or other contaminated sharp objects, contact between infected body fluids and mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth, and contact between infected body fluids and damaged skin, including cuts, scrapes, open sores, and acne.
Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – www.osha.gov
- OSHA Factsheet - https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_BloodborneFacts/bbfact01.pdf
- OSHA Safety & Health Training Resources – www.osha.gov/dte/library/index.html
- OSHA Training Institute – www.osha.gov/dte/oti/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – www.cdc.gov
- American Red Cross – www.redcross.org
- Bloodborne Pathogens Fact and Skill Sheet -http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240193_PreventingSpreadBloodbornePathogensFactandSkill.pdf