Bloodborne Pathogens

December 2018 Safety Topic

December 7, 2018
Doctor wearing gloves placing a bandaid on a patient's arm

CUIMC personnel may encounter situations where they can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens while at work. Bloodborne pathogen exposure can occur in a number of ways but needlestick injuries are the most common cause. Exposure may also occur through contact of contaminants with the nose, mouth, eyes, or skin. 

The bloodborne pathogens that are most commonly encountered in the work place and pose the greatest threat to the well-being of CUIMC employees include the following:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV)

HBV, HCV, and HIV live within an infected person’s body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. These pathogens can only be positively identified through a blood test. 

In order to minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens and to hinder the risk of infection it is important that CUIMC employees practice Universal Precautions. 

Practicing Universal Precautions means that you assume that all blood and body fluids are infected and that you protect yourself at all times while handling and disposing of all biological materials, waste, and equipment. 

Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer is recommended as good work place practices. In addition to this when performing certain tasks, it is recommended that appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be donned. Depending on the task, the eyes, mouth, nose, and hands should be protected when performing a task where the risk to being exposed to bloodborne pathogens is high. In addition to this, any breaks in the skin which include cuts, wounds, bites, etc. should be appropriately covered to prevent exposure to any bloodborne pathogens. 

For more information or questions about bloodborne pathogens, please speak with your Supervisor or contact a member of the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance team.