When An Exposure Occurs

Finger bleeding from needle stick
Needlestick injuries are a form of an exposure.

What to do When You are Exposed

When an exposure occurs, immediate self-care is the highest priority.  Flush potentially contaminated materials from the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth with large amounts of running water.

Allow a puncture wound from a potentially contaminated sharp object to bleed.  Wash the wound with soap and water.

Wash potentially contaminated material off your skin with soap and water as quickly as possible after an exposure.  Washing is especially important when you have cuts, rashes, or scrapes on your skin.

When available, use a face and eye wash station to flush the eyes, nose, or mouth if they are exposed to blood or bodily fluids.

1. While providing first aid treatment to a fellow employee, Maria had blood sprayed into her eyes. What should Maria do first?

a. Report the incident to her supervisor
b. Continue working until her next scheduled break
c. Provide immediate self-care
d. Go to the hospital

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What do you do next?

After self-care, report the exposure incident without delay.  This allows for timely testing of the source individual and, if necessary, the employee.

You will be directed to a healthcare professional for medical evaluation as soon as possible after receiving the source individual's test results.  The evaluation will document the route of exposure and how the exposure occurred.  There is no cost to you for this evaluation.

2. What action should you take after completing self-care following exposure to bloodborne pathogens?

a. Continue working
b. Report the incident
c. Call a doctor
d. Take the rest of the day off

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Post-Exposure Therapy

Post exposure blood draw
After an exposure, blood tests may be needed to help determine exposure.

If you are exposed to HIV-infected blood, most medical facilities offer short-term therapy called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). This involves taking HIV medicines soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent becoming infected with HIV. This therapy must begin as soon as possible after the exposure. PEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV by as much as 80 percent.

The evaluation will also include counseling and education regarding the testing process and the ramifications of the exposure.  This includes sexual practices information for the six month post-exposure evaluation period.

The result of testing is confidential and will be reported only to you and your company's exposure control plan administrator.  No other person will be notified of the results.

3. What should you do to reduce the risk of getting HIV after exposure?

a. Begin Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
b. Investigate alternative treatments
c. Get blood tests every three months
d. See the doctor if symptoms surface

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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Patrick is a nurse working in the emergency department of the local hospital. During one of his shifts he is accidentally jabbed by a used needle. The needle punctures his skin and draws blood.

What should Patrick do?

Immediate self care is Patrick's first priority.

He needs to allow the puncture wound to bleed, hopefully flushing any contaminates out of his body.

Next, he should wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.

Next, Patrick needs to report the incident to his direct supervisor so a injury report can be completed. Patrick will then be seen by a health care professional to determine the best course of treatment for him. Sometimes it is possible to test for various diseases if the exposure source can be identified. This is not always possible.

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