Phlebotomy: Biohazard Exposure Routes

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Posted on 2nd June 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

Health care workers must be aware of the many ways that they can be exposed to biohazards.  The most common and easily recognizable route is by ingestion.  Other routes besides ingestion are called parenteral routes.  Here is some information about some of the most common routes for biohazard exposure.

Airborne
Aerosols and splashes can allow biohazard materials to become airborne and easy inhaled.  This can happen when biohazard specimens are centrifuged and the stoppers are removed.  It can also occur when preparing specimen aliquots.  If chemicals are not properly stored, mixed or handled dangerous fumes can result and become inhaled.

Ingestion
Sanitization is important to prevent ingesting biohazards.  The simplest and most effect means of preventing ingestions is to wash your hands frequently before having contact with food, gum, candy, drinks or anything that will come into contact with your mouth, like cigarettes.  Covering your mouth with your hands instead of using a tissue when coughing and sneezing can also allow for the transmission and ingestion of biohazards.  Biting your nails, chewing on pens, licking your fingers after meals or to turn the pages of books increases your chances of biohazard ingestion.

Precutaneous
The term percutaneous means through the skin.  Biohazard materials can enter the body if they come into contact with unbroken skin.  This can occur in a health care environment if the skin becomes punctured by needlesticks and broken glass.  Percutaneous exposure can be reduced by using needle safety devices, wearing appropriate gloves to handle broken glass, and never handling glass barehanded.

Permucosal
If the mucous membranes are exposed to biohazards they can quickly and easily enter the body. Mucous membranes are located in the mouth, nose and eyes.  Sneezing, coughing, and rubbing or touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands increases your chance of infection.

Washing your hands regularly is a simple and effective way of preventing exposure to microorganisms and other biohazards that can enter your body.

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