10 Shocking Facts About Bloodborne Pathogens & Sharps Management

You’ve heard the warnings, and stories about the transmission of dangerous bloodborne pathogens (BBP) that can occur as a result of unsafe sharps management practice. Honestly, the true gravity of failing to take the necessary precautions when handling and disposing of medical waste might surprise you.

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens (BBP) are bacteria and viruses present in blood and body fluids that can cause disease in humans. This includes, but is not limited to: Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Workers exposed to these pathogens risk serious illness or death.

Did you know these surprising, shocking facts about bloodborne pathogens?

  1. In a single year, it is estimated that as many as 20 million people, globally, will acquire HBV infections from unsafe medical injections. (Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 2013)
  1. Many of the risks associated with improper sharps management protocols may go under-reported, or may not be reported at all. Between the years of 2008 and 2012, 35 hepatitis outbreaks were reported to the CDC — not incidences, full-scale outbreaks. (MMWR, 2013)
  1. One outbreak can affect thousands of people. As a result of those 35 outbreaks, more than 100 thousand people had to be tested for hepatitis. (CDC.gov, 2013)
  1. Despite the CDC’s “One and Only” campaign, the reuse of syringes (via intravenous tubing and needle only changes) between patients still occurs in the United States. (MMWR, 2013)
  1. Of the CDC-reported viral hepatitis infections, 94 percent of healthcare-associated outbreaks occurred in non-hospital, routine visit, medical office settings. (CDC.gov, 2013)
  1. In long-term care facilities, 87 percent of hepatitis B outbreaks occurred during ASSISTED blood glucose monitoring. (CDC.gov, 2013)
  1. Many healthcare workers do not report sharps-related injuries. It is estimated that as many as 22–99 percent of such incidents go unreported. (Davis et al, 2012)
  1. Despite the fact that the American College of Surgeons recommends the use of blunt-tip suture needles to reduce needlestick injuries, fewer than 10 percent of surgeons use them at least 75 percent of the time. (Rohde et al, 2013)
  1. More than half of all nurses will experience at least one needlestick during their career. (Davis et al, 2012).

  2. Though HBV, HCV, AND HIV are the most frequently discussed as related to unsafe sharps management, more than 20 types of bloodborne pathogens have been identified as having been transmitted by those means. (MMWR, 2012)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires bloodborne pathogen (BBP) training for all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). This includes health care workers, first-aid providers and employees who are assigned to clean up after an injury.

BBP training is required at least annually as well as when changes in tasks or procedures affect a worker’s occupational exposure. Do your part to keep yourself, your employees, and the public safe from bloodborne pathogens. 

Contact Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services to learn more about getting setup with our BBP training today or to discuss the right and wrong ways to manage your sharps disposal.