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Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne Pathogens

At the close of this session, you will be able to:

Explain what bloodborne pathogens are and how to prevent infection.


What are bloodborne pathogens?


  • Bloodborne pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, are present in blood and body fluids and can cause disease in humans.
  • The bloodborne pathogens of primary concern are hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.


These and other bloodborne pathogens are spread primarily through:


  • Direct contact. Infected blood or body fluid from one person enters another person’s body at a correct entry site, such as infected blood splashing in the eye.
  • Indirect contact. A person’s skin touches an object that contains the blood or body fluid of an infected person, such as picking up soiled dressings contaminated with an infected person’s blood or body fluid.
  • Respiratory droplet transmission. A person inhales droplets from an infected person, such as through a cough or sneeze
  • Vector-borne transmission. A person’s skin is penetrated by an infectious source, such as an insect bite.


Precautions to prevent spread of bloodborne pathogens:


  • Follow standard precautions to help prevent the spread of bloodborne pathogens and other diseases whenever there is a risk of exposure to blood or other body fluids.
  • These precautions require that all blood and other body fluids be treated as if they are infectious.
  • Standard precautions include maintaining personal hygiene and using personal protective equipment (PPE), engineering controls, work practice controls, and proper equipment cleaning and spill cleanup procedures.


To prevent infection, follow these guidelines:


  • Avoid contact with blood and other body fluids
  • Use CPR breathing barriers, such as resuscitation masks, when giving ventilations (rescue breaths).
  • Wear disposable gloves whenever providing care, particularly if you may come into contact with blood or body fluids. Also wear protective coverings, such as a mask, eyewear and a gown, if blood or other body fluids can splash.
  • Cover any cuts, scrapes or sores and remove jewelry, including rings, before wearing disposable gloves.


To prevent infection, follow these guidelines:



  • Change gloves before providing care to a different victim.
  • Remove disposable gloves without contacting the soiled part of the gloves and dispose of them in a proper container.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands and other areas immediately after providing care. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer where hand-washing facilities are not available if your hands are not visibly soiled. When practical, wash your hands before providing care.


To reduce the risk of exposure, follow these engineering practice controls:


  • Use biohazard bags to dispose of contaminated materials, such as used gloves and bandages. Place all soiled clothing in marked plastic bags for disposal or cleaning. Biohazard warning labels are required on any container holding contaminated materials.
  • Use sharps disposal containers to place sharps items, such as needles.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment and work surfaces soiled by blood or body fluids. Use a fresh disinfectant solution of approximately 1½ cups of liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water (1 part bleach per 9 parts water, or about a 10% solution) and allow it to stand for at least 10 minutes. Scrub soiled boots, leather shoes and other leather goods, such as belts, with soap, a brush and hot water. If worn, wash and dry uniforms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


If you are exposed, take the following steps immediately:


  • Wash needlestick injuries, cuts and exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water.
  • If splashed with blood or potentially infectious material around the mouth or nose, flush the area with water.
  • If splashed in or around the eyes, irrigate with clean water, saline or sterile irrigants for 20 minutes.


If you are exposed, take the following steps immediately (continued)


  • Report the incident to the appropriate person identified in your employer’s exposure control plan immediately. Additionally, report the incident to emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who take over care.
  • Record the incident by writing down what happened. Include the date, time and circumstances of the exposure; any actions taken after the exposure; and any other information required by your employer.
  • Seek immediate follow-up care as identified in your employer’s exposure control plan.




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