Nurses not following bloodborne pathogen precautions 83% of the time

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Despite the risk that bloodborne diseases represent, a new study published in The American Journal of Infection Control discovered only 17.4% of nurses follow all nine standard precautions meant to prevent the spread of bloodborne infections. The precautions are meant to protect against diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Always wearing gloves is the most followed standard, with 92% out of 116 nurses studied in compliance. That said, far fewer nurses said they always wash their hands after treating patients (82%), always wear a face mask (70%), or always wash their hands after removing their gloves (63%.)
Researchers also found that many nurses held several misconceptions about hepatitis C (HCV), a bloodborne illness affecting 3.5 million Americans.  Of the nurses studied, 26% incorrectly believe that HCV was mostly spread through sexual activity, 14% incorrectly believe most HCV victims will die prematurely, 12% didn’t know that people can have HCV antibodies without currently being infected, and 11% didn’t know there are multiple HCV genotypes.                                    
In their conclusion, researchers said that since all their data was gathered via self-report it’s possible that compliance rates are even lower than reported. They recommend organizations more strictly enforce compliance policies and address problem areas with better monitoring and staff education.

To go more in-depth on the standard precautions for bloodborne infections, please click here.