Healthcare workers all over the world are at great risk of contracting different types of blood-borne diseases because of their nature of work. Medical professionals, compared to other professionals, are more prone to getting exposed to blood-borne diseases because they handle patients’ blood and other body fluids on a daily basis. Hence, once an error in handling, storing, and disposal of medical supplies and equipment containing contaminated blood or body fluid could result in a devastating workplace accident, which could eventually lead to contracting a blood-borne disease.
In Australia, healthcare workers are not exempted from being exposed to the possibility of contracting blood-borne diseases. Some of the common types of blood-borne diseases Australian healthcare workers are prone to contracting include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
Hepatitis B – This is a serious liver infection resulting from the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Patients suffering from this disease may experience chronic hepatitis B infection, which could lead to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis, a medical condition that causes the patient to suffer from permanent scarring of the liver. Healthcare workers who are exposed to blood or body fluids of a person suffering from hepatitis B can contract HPV.
Hepatitis C – This is an infection caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV), a virus that attacks the liver, which lead to inflammation. People suffering from this type of disease may not notice it until they experience liver damage, which could show up decades later or during routine medical tests. Just like hepatitis B, hepatitis C can be contracted blood borne.
HIV – This serious illness of the human immune system is caused by the infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). People suffering from this disease may experience a short episode of influenza-like disease. As the disease progresses, the patient’s immune system is compromised, making him or her very likely to contract infections, including but not limited to opportunistic infections and tumors. HIV can be transmitted through contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles.
Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are nowhere near being minor diseases. People suffering from these diseases are at serious risk of having poor and frail health, making them susceptible to other illnesses and health issues, which could eventually lead to death. This is why it is imperative for healthcare workers to be wary of their safety when handling, storing, and disposing contaminated medical sharps like hypodermic needles, lancets, and scalpel blades.
Medical sharps are parts and parcels of the healthcare industry. It is impossible to carry out medical activities without the use of these sharps. Hence, instead of addressing the issue by removing sharps from hospitals and medical laboratories, it should be resolved by implementing safety policies in the workplace.
Healthcare employers and their HR solutions providers in Australia should be specific in implementing safety guidelines in order to protect workers from blood-borne diseases like those previously mentioned.
Implement sharps-related policy – Healthcare-related workplaces should adapt strict policies regarding proper handling, storing, and disposal of sharps. The policy should specify the things employees must do in every particular situation so they will be guided accordingly. The policy should be in conformity with the standards set by the government. The hospital administration department and the HR solutions practitioners should strictly impose such policy.
Sharps disposal guidelines – Proper disposal of used medical sharps like needles and lancets is a must in any medical workplace. Used sharps should be placed in standard sharps containers and must be disposed properly. Proper sharps disposal is crucial because if unprotected person get to have access to these used sharps, medical accident will surely happen.
Decontamination and disinfection measures – Some medical equipment and devices are not disposable, which means they will be used on a regular basis. These devices should be properly decontaminated or disinfected before and after using them to avoid transmission of blood-borne diseases.
Exposure of medical care workers from blood-borne diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV can be eliminated by following safety and preventive measures. Workplaces should adapt strict policies regarding handling and disposal of used sharps to limit exposure of workers from blood-borne illnesses.