Working in the healthcare industry is no easy feat, especially with COVID-19. Bloodborne pathogens can spread quickly and easily between individuals, putting you and your patients at risk. In order to keep yourself and the rest of your workforce safe, you need to prepare yourself.
What are some effective measures that can reduce the spread of bloodborne pathogens?
There are many steps that healthcare employees can take to ensure their safety and the safety of their patients. The most important one could do is to undergo a bloodborne pathogens certification. Aside from that, here are a few more safety precautions that you can use in the workplace.
1. Avoid Contact with Bodily Fluids
Bloodborne pathogens can get into the body through more than blood. Exposure to pathogens can occur whenever you handle any bodily fluid, including saliva, urine, and other fluids. It’s important to avoid direct contact with any of these fluids.
Unfortunately, it may be impossible to avoid all contact with bodily fluids. However, limiting the number of times you expose yourself to blood and other fluids is crucial to keeping you and your coworkers safe.
2. Wear Appropriate PPE
Personal protective equipment is designed to keep pathogen exposure to a minimum. Whenever you are dealing with bloodborne pathogens, you should make sure that you’re wearing the appropriate equipment.
Gloves, masks, and some form of eye protection should be used to prevent bodily fluids from entering your body. You should also wear gloves whenever handling body fluids from an infected patient. Make sure that the gloves fit properly to avoid any risks of fluids getting on your hands.
Any masks or eye protection that you wear should be properly fitting as well. Masks should fit snuggly against the mouth and fall over the nose to protect your airways; meanwhile, goggles or protective glasses should be snug on the face and not slip down the nose. Should the patient cough or sneeze, these will protect you from exposure to pathogens.
3. Remove Gloves the Right Way
When you remove your gloves, use methods that prevent you from touching the outside of the glove. Remove one hand first, then grip the inside of the second glove at the wrist; remove it by pulling the glove inside-out, then dispose of the gloves properly. Make sure you always change gloves between patients to avoid cross-contamination.
4. Cover Any Cuts and Scrapes
Bloodborne pathogens will take any entrance they can into your body. If you have open cuts or scrapes, regardless of whether or not they are still bleeding, you need to take precautions and cover them well.
Any bandages you use should be air-tight and waterproof to avoid them coming loose. Make sure that the bandages cover the entirety of the wound so that no pathogens can enter your bloodstream.
5. Effective Hygiene Practices
The simplest way to prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands whenever possible, especially after dealing with an infected patient. You should consider washing your hands before and after you use gloves to avoid any bacteria getting on your hands.
Using soap and water, scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds and rinse with warm water. This will kill any bacteria remaining on your hands. For extra protection, you can use hand sanitizer after washing your hands. For extra protection, you can use hand sanitizer after washing your hands. Even if you are treating a patient, make sure a privacy screen is installed to prevent the risk of infection from any other patients.
6. Study Up on Bloodborne Pathogens
Your best defense against bloodborne pathogens is having appropriate knowledge about them. Healthcare workers should make sure they are educated enough to handle pathogens of this nature; that way, you and your patients can stay safe and healthy.
Understand how bloodborne pathogens behave, as well as some common bloodborne pathogens that you may encounter. That way, you can be better prepared should you ever have to deal with certain pathogens.
Your workplace is required to give you the tools and knowledge necessary to protect yourself. If you are ever unsure about protocol, ask your superiors how to handle bloodborne pathogens and safety measures that you can take to protect yourself.
7. Handle and Dispose of Sharps Safely
Sharps are easy to mishandle in tough situations, and any poke you get from a used sharp could be an exposure to pathogens. Anything living on a needle or sharp tool can get into your skin with one misstep.
Use caution whenever you need to handle sharps. Whether it’s a used needle or a piece of glass that happens to have blood on it, anything that could have been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen should be treated with care. The bottom line is if it could be infected, you should treat it like it is.
Before placing sharps in a bin, you should also place them in a puncture-proof container to prevent accidental injuries. Should someone accidentally reach into a sharps bin, these containers will protect the individual from getting hurt. It also keeps the contamination from spreading.
To prevent your coworkers and other patients from getting hurt, make sure to put all sharps in a proper sharps disposal bin. Every disposal unit should be labeled to avoid miscommunication and placed in safe spaces. If you are unsure where the sharps containers in your buildings are, make sure you ask your employer for more information.
8. Avoid Touching Your Mouth, Nose, and Eyes
While dealing with a bloodborne pathogen, you should avoid touching your face as much as possible. Pathogens can enter your body through your eyes, mouth, nose, and even your ears, then make their way into your bloodstream or lungs. To prevent this, keep yourself from touching your face.
9. Disinfect All Equipment After Use
Disinfecting your equipment should be a priority each time you use it. Whether you are using it again or are storing it away somewhere, making sure that the equipment you used isn’t contaminated is crucial in protecting your patients.
An unclean piece of equipment can become home to pathogens, and those pathogens can get onto any other equipment you store it with. To prevent unnecessary spread, make sure you not only clean but disinfect everything after it has been used.
10. Dispose of Linens and Gloves in the Proper Receptacles
Not only should sharps be dealt with the right way, but you should also make sure that your disposable PPE is placed in the appropriate areas as well. Any bins around your workplace should be labeled with what it holds; that way, other coworkers and patients know what is inside.
Your employer should provide bins for disposal, bins for cleaning, and bins for decontamination. They should all be properly labeled to avoid accidental contamination, so ask where these bins are.
What to Do if You’ve Been Exposed
No matter how well protected you are, you may still come into contact with a bloodborne pathogen. If you have reason to suspect you may have been infected, there are some steps you need to take.
First, make sure you clean and disinfect the affected area. You may also need to flush your eyes if any saliva or bodily fluids came into contact with them. This will reduce your chances of infection.
Once you have cleaned and disinfected yourself, you need to seek medical attention right away. You may need to be tested for the pathogens; your physician will be able to advise you of any steps you need to take. You may have to wait a bit for results, as bloodborne pathogens can take some time before you start experiencing symptoms.
Regardless of the results of your tests, the safest thing you can do for yourself, your coworkers, and your patients is to isolate yourself following exposure. That way, if you were infected and don’t yet realize it, you can keep the spread to a minimum.
Pay close attention to any contact you have with others and make it known that you may have an infectious illness. Be cautious and take care of yourself; the last thing you want to do is spread a bloodborne pathogen to others.
Keep Bloodborne Pathogens from Spreading
Bloodborne pathogens are dangerous and can be spread easily, but with these practices in mind, you can reduce the spread of diseases. Remember to always practice good hygiene and use caution whenever you are around individuals with bloodborne pathogens. If you ever have reason to suspect you or someone you know is infected, make sure you handle the situation right away.
Do you want to help educate your staff on the dangers of bloodborne pathogens? Are you concerned about the potential spread of dangerous illnesses in your workplace? There are a lot of bloodborne pathogens training program available online. Now is the best time to invest in them.