In moving forward with our discussion of blood, we will discuss the hazards of working with blood. Who is at risk? The professional health care team is comprised of many members. Physicians, nurses, medical lab technologists, environmental services (formerly called housekeeping), EMT/paramedics, patient care assistants (formerly called nurses’ aides), researchers, and many more. Fire and law enforcement, construction crews, and other tradesmen and women are also at risk of being exposed to blood. We should all be abiding by universal precautions techniques. Using universal precautions entails treating all blood and bodily fluids as if they are potentially contaminated. This approach is the most effective way to protect all employees.
Safe handling and disposal of syringes, broken glass, and other specimen is a must. When I learned venipuncture in the 1980’s, re-sheathing or covering the needle was a popular practice. When universal precautions became mandatory, (i.e. wearing gloves for every blood draw, IV insertion, or other medical procedure), many people were forced to abandon bad habits. I was trained by medical professionals who remember performing procedures with their bare hands. I suppose this dates me.
Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms in blood or other body fluids that cause illness and disease in people. These microorganisms can be transmitted through contact with contaminated blood and bodily fluids. Many people think that contracting HIV is the only concern in handling blood and bodily fluids. However, hepatitis should be of concern, also. We will talk further about the hazards of working with blood.