| FAQ - Sharps Safety/Postexposure Management - Archived Through 2012
Should needlestick injuries be reported to the dental workers' compensation carrier? I asked the nearest hospital about post-exposure prophylaxis and they did not provide nor know about it. Where should I look for the information?
As a rule, injuries that require medical evaluation, care, and/or treatment to workers must be reported to workers' compensation carriers. However, workers' compensation programs can vary from state to state. Contact your state office of employment or worker's compensation for details of how these injuries should be handled.
The United States Public Health Service updated the Guidelines for Management of Occupational Exposures. The guidelines may be viewed at:
CDC. Updated U.S. Public Health Service guidelines for the management of occupational exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis. MMWR 2001;50(No. RR-11).
Additional information may be viewed at:
NIOSH Emergency Needlestick Information: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bbp/emergnedl.html
CDC Exposure to Blood: What Healthcare Personnel Need To Know:
The CDC's Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings, in part, states the following:
Postexposure management is an integral component of a complete program to prevent infection after an occupational exposure to blood. During dental procedures, saliva is predictably contaminated with blood. Even when blood is not visible, it can still be present in limited quantities and therefore is considered a potentially infectious material by OSHA. A qualified health-care professional should evaluate any occupational exposure incident to blood or OPIM, including saliva, regardless of whether blood is visible, in dental settings. (1)
Dental practices and laboratories should establish written, comprehensive programs that include hepatitis B vaccination and postexposure management protocols that 1) describe the types of contact with blood or OPIM that can place DHCP at risk for infection; 2) describe procedures for promptly reporting and evaluating such exposures; and 3) identify a health-care professional who is qualified to provide counseling and perform all medical evaluations and procedures in accordance with current recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), including PEP with chemotherapeutic drugs when indicated. DHCP, including students, who might reasonably be considered at risk for occupational exposure to blood or OPIM should be taught strategies to prevent contact with blood or OPIM and the principles of postexposure management, including PEP options, as part of their job orientation and training. Educational programs for DHCP and students should emphasize reporting all exposures to blood or OPIM as soon as possible, because certain interventions have to be initiated promptly to be effective. Policies should be consistent with the practices and procedures for worker protection required by OSHA and with current PHS recommendations for managing occupational exposures to blood.
After an occupational blood exposure, first aid should be administered as necessary. Puncture wounds and other injuries to the skin should be washed with soap and water; mucous membranes should be flushed with water. No evidence exists that using antiseptics for wound care or expressing fluid by squeezing the wound further reduces the risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission; however, use of antiseptics is not contraindicated. The application of caustic agents (e.g., bleach) or the injection of antiseptics or disinfectants into the wound is not recommended. Exposed DHCP should immediately report the exposure to the infection-control coordinator or other designated person, who should initiate referral to the qualified health-care professional and complete necessary reports. Because multiple factors contribute to the risk of infection after an occupational exposure to blood, the following information should be included in the exposure report, recorded in the exposed person's confidential medical record, and provided to the qualified health-care professional (1):
Date and time of exposure.
Details of the procedure being performed, including where and how the exposure occurred and whether the exposure involved a sharp device, the type and brand of device, and how and when during its handling the exposure occurred.
Details of the exposure, including its severity and the type and amount of fluid or material. For a percutaneous injury, severity might be measured by the depth of the wound, gauge of the needle, and whether fluid was injected; for a skin or mucous membrane exposure, the estimated volume of material, duration of contact, and the condition of the skin (e.g., chapped, abraded, or intact) should be noted.
Details regarding whether the source material was known to contain HIV or other bloodborne pathogens, and, if the source was infected with HIV, the stage of disease, history of antiretroviral therapy, and viral load, if known.
Details regarding the exposed person (e.g., hepatitis B vaccination and vaccine-response status).
Details regarding counseling, postexposure management, and follow-up.
Each occupational exposure should be evaluated individually for its potential to transmit HBV, HCV, and HIV, based on the following (1):
The type and amount of body substance involved.
The type of exposure (e.g., percutaneous injury, mucous membrane or nonintact skin exposure, or bites resulting in blood exposure to either person involved).
The infection status of the source.
The susceptibility of the exposed person.
All of these factors should be considered in assessing the risk for infection and the need for further follow-up (e.g., PEP). (1)
During 1990--1998, PHS published guidelines for PEP and other management of health-care worker exposures to HBV, HCV, or HIV. In 2001, these recommendations were updated and consolidated into one set of PHS guidelines. The new guidelines reflect the availability of new antiretroviral agents, new information regarding the use and safety of HIV PEP, and considerations regarding employing HIV PEP when resistance of the source patient's virus to antiretroviral agents is known or suspected. In addition, the 2001 guidelines provide guidance to clinicians and exposed HCP regarding when to consider HIV PEP and recommendations for PEP regimens. (1)
Note: Some dental employers consult/contract with an Occupational Health/Occupational Medicine Facility knowledgeable in exposure incidents to management their employee postexposure evaluation and follow-up.
1) CDC's Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings: