Overview – Exposure to blood and other body substances
All staff must be aware of how to prevent exposure to blood or body substances (except sweat).
Any blood or other body substances to which a staff member is exposed must be managed as potential sources of blood-borne viral infections, regardless of the individual’s diagnosis or perceived risk.
All staff need to know what to do if they are (or someone else is) exposed to blood or body substances, including who to report the incident to and what immediate actions are needed.
Management of an occupational exposure involves first aid, including immediate decontamination of the exposed area, risk assessment, rapid testing of the exposed person and the source person for blood-borne viruses, prompt post-exposure prophylaxis (if indicated), full documentation of the incident to enable investigation, counselling of the exposed person and source person, analysis of the cause of the exposure incident and modification of procedures as required to reduce the risk of recurrence, and staff education.
Some steps must be done within the practice. These include decontamination, documentation, analysis, risk reduction and staff education.
Allocation of responsibilities for other steps depends on the individual practice’s policy. Practices may choose to refer to external providers (eg occupational health physicians or hospital emergency departments) for risk assessment, blood-borne virus testing and post-exposure prophylaxis if required (these must occur within a few hours of the exposure), and for counselling.
Practices must follow requirements for reporting sharps injuries and exposures to blood or other body substances according to legalisation in their state or territory.