If there’s one thing that every healthcare professional will encounter at least once in their career, it’s blood. Nurses, doctors, EMTs, dentists, lab workers, and even tattoo artists can be exposed to blood and potentially even bloodborne pathogens.
While it can seem like an innocent bodily fluid, blood can be harboring infectious materials that put your life and livelihood at risk. As a result, training courses with an emphasis on bloodborne pathogens can be crucial for the following reasons:
To Learn Precautionary Guidelines
A core part of any bloodborne pathogens training course involves learning preventive measures to use in an environment where blood and bodily fluids can be transferred. You can learn about the importance of impervious gloves, safety goggles for eye protection, and facial protection in the form of a face shield. Precautionary guidelines also outline special resuscitation devices for CPR and reporting processes for any bloodborne pathogen exposure events.
There Are No Cures
If you contract a bloodborne virus such as hepatitis B or HIV, there are no cures. A vaccine can prevent Hepatitis B, but it can’t cure it once you have it. Likewise, there is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV.
Management of both conditions also requires a lifelong commitment. Thus, while educating yourself on bloodborne pathogens is not a wholly effective form of protection, it can minimize the risk of possible exposure.
High Infection Risk
Healthcare workers face many risks in their daily work, and bloodborne pathogens are certainly among the highest workplace hazards. According to the Immunization Action Coalition, one teaspoon of blood can contain up to a trillion HBV particles. There are also at least 15 HIV particles in the average teaspoon of HIV-infected blood.
As a result, one exposure event by chance can be all it takes to become infected with a life-changing bloodborne pathogen. The more informed you are about the measures you can take to protect yourself, the safer you may be.
Diagnosis Can Be Difficult
Some conditions are certainly easier to diagnose than others. However, illnesses related to bloodborne pathogens are some of the most difficult of all.
Regarding HIV infections, they can take years to diagnose due to slow-forming symptoms. As hepatitis B symptoms also tend to be mild, a diagnosis may not happen for several months or even years. By that point, you may have put other people at risk.
Understand What to Do Post-Exposure
Even when you know the measures to put in place to reduce the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, it can still occur. A training course can help you understand what to do next if this should happen to you.
Report any exposure events to a supervisor or manager, and wash your hands and other potentially affected body parts with warm water and soap or a mild solution of water and bleach. If your nose, eyes, or any mucous membranes were exposed, flush them out with water.
One of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing in the medical industry is upskilling with the goal of keeping yourself safe. While bloodborne pathogen exposure events may be rare, they aren’t impossible. Training may be able to limit your exposure risk as much as possible.