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Show full transcript for Exposure Incident and Reporting video

Being exposed to a bloodborne pathogen or other potentially infectious materials is a serious topic. In this lesson, we'll go over what to do if you ever find yourself in that situation, along with some responsibilities that your employer bears.

An exposure incident is defined as contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that results from the performance of an employee's duties. Contact specifically means contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.), broken skin, or through a puncture-related incident, or in any situation where there exists a high probability of contamination.

What to do if You are Exposed

If you are exposed, take the following steps immediately:

  1. Clean the contaminated area thoroughly with soap and water. Wash needlestick injuries, cuts, and exposed skin with soap and water.
  2. Flush out any splashes of blood and OPIM to the mouth and nose with water.
  3. If the eyes are involved, irrigate with clean water, saline, or sterile irrigants for 20 minutes.
  4. Seek immediate follow-up care as identified in your department exposure control plan.

Pro Tip #1: You'll also need to report the incident and complete all the appropriate forms as soon as possible after the exposure incident. However, DO NOT delay medical treatment to fill out paperwork.

Medical treatment should include an immediate post exposure evaluation, prophylaxis treatment, and the appropriate follow up care, all of which should be conducted by a physician at no cost to the employee.

Exposure Incident Reporting

An exposure incident should include the following:

  1. The time, date, and location of the exposure.
  2. An account of all the people involved, including the exposed person, names of their first aid providers, and if possible, the name of the source individual.
  3. The circumstances of the exposure, any actions taken after the exposure, and any other information required by your employer.

Pro Tip #2: What do we mean by if possible from point number two above? The situation could include a source that is unknown. Or state or local laws may prohibit the identification of the source of the infection.

However, if the source is known and if that person gives consent, tests should be conducted as soon as possible, particularly for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Report the exposure incident to the appropriate person identified in your employer's exposure control plan (often the infection control officer). There will be forms to fill out and continued follow-up, which will proceed according to your employer's policies.

Your employer's exposure control plan must specify who should be contacted and what procedures need to be done to follow-up. This includes the employer's responsibilities to provide post-exposure prophylaxis when medically indicated, counseling, and the evaluation of reported illnesses at no charge.