1 UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, DISABILITY AND LEAVE SECTOR MEASURES TO MINIMIZE EXPOSURE TO BLOODBORNE PATHOGENS AND POST-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS POLICY Prepared by the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave Sector Human Resources Service
2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Purpose...2 Contacts...2 Definition of Bloodborne Pathogens...3 Occupational Groups At Risk...4 Prevention...5 Universal Blood and Body Fluid Precautions...6 Immunization and Medical Surveillance...7 First Aid...8 Reporting Exposures...8 Post-Exposure Assessment, Prophylaxis and Management...9 Reporting to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board...11 Confidentiality...11 Appendix A Accident, Incident or Occupational Disease Report Appendix B Follow-up Letter to Employee
3 2 PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to minimize the risks of infection and illness for employees who are at increased risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens during the course of their work. The policy is also meant to provide an integrated approach in providing the appropriate medical follow-up for employees who have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens. It is not to be used as a guideline to assess the degree of risk following an exposure. Employees who have had an exposure are advised to promptly seek medical attention at the University s Health Services or emergency rooms at the General or Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital. Key Contacts Manager of Occupational Health, Disability and Leave extension Tabaret Hall, Room 017 Health Services Marie Curie, Main Campus 24 hours call service provided by clinic MD s 2
4 Definition of Bloodborne Pathogens Bloodborne pathogens are agents that have the potential to cause illness in individuals who are exposed to them. Health Canada has advised that the pathogens of greatest concern in the workplace are the hepatitis B virus, the hepatitis C virus and the Human Immunodefiency Virus (HIV). Hepatitis B is caused by a potentially fatal virus that destroys liver cells and may permanently damage the liver. It can be transmitted not only by percutaneous exposures, but also by mucous membrane exposures. The incubation period for hepatitis B is 45 to 160 days (average 120 ) days. Of the people infected with hepatitis B, 10% become chronic carriers and chronic carriers may develop life-threatening cirrhosis and an increased susceptibility to liver cancer. Immunization is a very effective method of preventing hepatitis B. Hepatitis C is caused by a virus and was previously known as Non-A Non-B hepatitis. The interval between exposure and seroconversion is approximately 8 to 10 weeks. It is considered an occupational risk for those who have or repeated percutaneous exposures to blood or blood products. At least 85% of people infected with the virus will become chronically infected. An increased risk of liver cancer does exist, especially in individuals who develop cirrhosis. To date no vaccine exists for hepatitis C, but the drug Interferon may be considered for individuals who are infected. Human Immunodefiency Virus is a retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome ( AIDS ). The mean incubation period is 10 years. It is difficult to become infected with HIV through a needle stick injury or other exposure to blood or other body fluids. The risk depends on the amount of virus to which one is exposed and the titre of HIV viral RNA which is highest at the time of seroconversion and in late symptomatic and advanced disease. There is no vaccine for HIV, but drugs are available which reduce the risk of becoming infected with the virus. The drugs are anti-retroviral agents and are referred to as chemoprophylaxis medications. To be effective, the drugs must be started within 1 to 2 hours after the exposure. The types of body fluids capable of transmitting HIV, HBV, and HCV from an infected individual include: - blood, serum, plasma and all biologic fluids visibly contaminated with blood - laboratory specimens, samples or cultures that contain concentrated HIV, HBV, HCV - organ and tissue transplants - pleural, amniotic, pericardial, peritoneal, synovial and cerebrospinal fluids - uterine/vaginal secretions or semen ( unlikely able to transmit HCV ) - saliva ( for HCV, HBV, and HIV if a bite is contaminated with blood and for HBV if a bite is not contaminated with blood). Feces, nasal secretions, sputum, tears, urine, and vomitus are not implicated in the transmission of HIV, HBV and HCV unless visibly contaminated with blood. 3
5 Occupational Groups At Increased Risk Although this policy applies to all employees at the University, there are some occupational groups who are at greater risk of being exposed to potentially infectious materials. Supervisors should identify in writing the tasks and procedures where occupational exposure to blood and blood products may occur, even if personal protective equipment and clothing are provided. The Manager of Occupational Health, Disability and Leave and the University s medical consultant will assist supervisors in assessing the level of risk employees are being exposed to when requested to do so. Employees working in the following areas at the University are considered to be at greater risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens: - personnel working in medical research labs, - Protection Services officers, - emergency response team members, - staff working in medical settings that provide patient care, - prosectors, - housekeeping staff, - plumbers, electricians - staff who during the course of their work are routinely required to provide first aid. New employees working in the above areas, who have not received the safety training specific to their occupations are considered to be at even greater of being exposed to infectious materials and of being injured on the job. Students in the Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences who are placed in training agencies such as hospital and medical clinics to obtain work skills and experience are also considered to be at increased risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens. 4
6 Prevention Immunization Against Hepatitis B Vaccination against hepatitis B must be offered to all employees in the high risk groups. The cost of the immunization will be paid by the employing department. Supervisors should ensure that employees contact the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave Office within 7 seven days of the commencement of the work assignment. Health Questionnaire New employees are encouraged to complete a Health Questionnaire and return it to the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave Office. The completed questionnaire is useful in assessing the new employees general health, immunization record and fitness for work. The completed questionnaire is kept in the employee s occupational health file for quick reference in the event of an injury or accident. Risk Reduction Programs An analysis of the components of the work to be done is recommended in order to determine what procedures and activities put employees at greatest risk of having an exposure. Whenever possible, alternate processes should be put in place to eliminate the risk of exposure. Training Training specific to the level of risk encountered in the occupational setting is strongly recommended. Employees should be advised what activities put them at greater risk of having an exposure and they should be encouraged to work safely at all times. They must also be instructed to use the engineering controls and the personal protective equipment made available to them. Employees working in medical research laboratories should receive biosafety training. The training is provided by the Environmental Health and Safety Service. The training should also stress the importance of using Universal Precautions when handling infectious materials. Reporting The importance of reporting every exposure sustained in the workplace should be stressed. The report should include the First Aid measures provided to the employee. Employees must be instructed to seek medical advise following an exposure. Surveillance System Reports should be completed after every exposure or injury. When reports are completed a surveillance system can be implemented. The causes of the accident can be identified and the level of risk established. Corrective measures can then be initiated. Pregnant employees who work in high risk areas should be especially familiar with and strictly adhere to precautions to minimize the risk of transmission. They may request to be assigned to modified duties for the duration of the pregnancy. 5
7 Universal Precautions Universal blood and body fluid precautions, as recommended by Health Canada. These precautions must always be used when handling blood or body fluids and especially when the infection status of the source of blood or body fluids is not known. 1. Employees should routinely use the appropriate protective equipment and engineering controls to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposure when contact with blood or other body fluids is anticipated. Gloves should be worn for handling blood and body fluids, and handling items or surfaces soiled with blood or body fluids. Avoid touching items that are not contaminated when gloves are being worn. Masks, eye protection, faces shields should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate droplets of blood or body fluids. Lab coats or gowns should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate splashes of blood or body fluids. Contaminated clothing should be removed immediately after the procedure is completed. 2. Handwashing is the most important procedure for preventing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens. Hands should be washed with soap and water (and with an antiseptic if possible ) immediately after touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions and contaminated items. Hands should be washed immediately after the gloves are removed and before leaving a work area. 3. Mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose ) should be rinsed with copious amounts of saline solution or water if splashed with blood or body fluids. 4. Caution should be used when handling contaminated needles, scalpel blades and equipment. To prevent needle stick injuries, needles should not be recapped, purposely bent or broken or manipulated unnecessarily. After use, needles and syringes should be placed in puncture resistant biohazardous containers. 5. Employees who have contact dermatitis or exudative lesions should refrain from procedures that will involve handling blood or body fluid. 6
8 Immunization and Medical Surveillance Hepatitis B Vaccine Hepatitis B infection, unlike other bloodborne pathogens, is a preventable through vaccination. The vaccine provides protection against infection in 90% to 95% of people who receive it. Although immunization programs are voluntary, the vaccine will be offered and strongly recommended to all employees working in high risk occupational areas. The cost of the immunization will be covered by the employing departments. Supervisors will advise employees that the vaccine is available and will ensure that they contact the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave Office to make arrangements to receive the immunization. Employees claiming to have received the vaccine will be asked to provide proof of immunization. Employees refusing the immunization will be required to contact to the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave office. Medical Surveillance Screening for HIV may be arranged by the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave office. The screening is available to employees who do research with the virus. The results of the testing will remain confidential and will not be released to the employing department. Serum Storage Program Health Canada Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines recommends the collection of a reference serum sample for all individuals who might be exposed to infectious agents. Individuals working in the Biohazardous Containment Suite and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology are required to provide a serum sample prior to the commencement of their work assignments. These samples are held in storage and may be used by the University s medical consultant, with the consent of the employee, for diagnostic or evaluation purposes in the event of an illness. A serum sample will not be tested for any reason without the employee s expressed written permission. It should be clearly identified on the consent form what the serum sample will be tested for. The employee may have the testing performed at a laboratory of his or her choice and the results of the testing should be forwarded to the employee s treating physician and the University s medical consultant. 7
9 First Aid First aid measures initiated immediately after the injury can minimize the exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The steps should be as follows: - Remove contaminated clothing or gloves. - Force bleed if possible ( needle stick injuries) and allow immediate bleeding of cuts. - Wash the affected area with soap ( antiseptic if available) and water. - If the eyes, nose or mouth are involved, flush them with large amounts of water or normal saline. The wound should be covered with a bandaid or dressing after first aid has been given. Reporting Exposures The exposure must be reported to the supervisor or a designated person without delay. Details of the accident should be documented on the Accident, Incident or Occupational Disease Report form. The injured person should not postpone seeking medical attention if the supervisor is not available and should immediately go to Health Services at the University or to the emergency room of the Ottawa hospital, General or Civic site. Details of the accident should be documented as compensation for an occupational infection may depend on test results from the employee/student and the source. The physician will determine if the risk is significant, the type of medical follow up required and if prophylaxis against hepatitis B and HIV are indicated. Reporting Exposures The completed Accident, Incident or Occupational Disease Report form must be signed by the employee and the supervisor and faxed to the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave office at the University without delay. The original copy must be sent by intra departmental mail within 24 hours of the exposure. The exposure must also be reported to the Manager of Occupational Health, Disability and Leave by phone. Manager, Occupational Health, Disability and Leave extension 1472 Occupational Health, Disability and Leave fax
10 Post-Exposure Assessment, Prophylaxis and Management The post-exposure assessment will be performed by the physician at Health Services or the Ottawa hospital. Both the employee and the source should be tested for all three pathogens immediately after the incident as compensation for an occupational infection may depend on documented test results. The employee should request that a copy of all tests results relating to the exposure be sent directly to the attention of the University s medical consultant, Dr. Don Kilby. This will avoid any delays in obtaining the results from the Public Health lab. An exposure will be considered significant when there is a possibility that a bloodborne pathogen may have entered the body by way of a percutaneous injury, a bite that breaks the skin, by a cut, or by the body fluid coming into contact with non-intact skin such as chapped or abraded skin or by a splash into the eyes, nose or mouth. According to Health Canada, the body fluids capable of transmitting HBV, HCV, and HIV from an infected individual are the following: - blood, serum, plasma and all biologic fluids visibly contaminated with blood - laboratory specimens, samples, or cultures that contain concentrated HBV, HCV, and HIV - organ or tissues transplants - pleural, amniotic, pericardial, peritoneal, synovial, and cerebrospinal fluids - uterine/vaginal secretions, or semen (unlikely to transmit HCV) - saliva (for HBV only, unless contaminated with blood). Unless visibly contaminated with blood, nasal secretions, tears, sputum, urine, feces and vomitus are not capable of transmitting HBV, HCV, and HIV. Post-Exposure Chemoprophylaxis Following an occupational exposure to HIV, the treating physician may either recommend, offer, or not offer chemoprophylaxis depending on the circumstances of the exposure and the characteristics of the source. These exposures are defined as follows: - percutaneous, mucous membrane, or non-intact skin exposure to concentrated virus in a research lab - percutaneous exposures to potentially infectious blood or body fluids, which involve deep injury, injection of source patient s blood or body fluid, a needle placed directly in source patient s blood vessel, or source patient with high viral titre ( as in acute retro viral illness or terminal HIV disease) (2). If post-exposure chemoprophylaxis is to be implemented it should be started as soon as possible after the exposure, preferably within hours.
11 Post-Exposure Immunoprophylaxis for Hepatitis B The recommended treatment for possible exposure to hepatitis B will be determined according to vaccination and antibody status of the employee. If vaccination is started at the time of exposure it will be possible for the employee to have the vaccination completed by the nursing staff in Occupational Health, Disability and Leave. Employees who are prescribed chemoprophylaxis medications or who are vaccinated against hepatitis B should contact the Manager of Occupational Health, Disability and Leave as soon as possible after the incident. An appointment with the University s medical consultant may be arranged. If the exposures occurs on a weekend, the employee should contact Health Services directly for an appointment. It is recommended that the blood work be repeated 6 weeks and 12 weeks after the exposure. The testing will be arranged by the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave office. 9
12 Reporting to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board 10 The information provided on the Accident, Incident or Occupational Disease Report form will be used by the Occupational Health, Disability and Leave Sector in order to complete the form required to advise the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of the exposure. Accidents or exposures for which employees must seek medical attention or absences from work as a result of the exposure must be reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 3 days of the employer learning of the incident. Confidentiality Confidentiality surrounding the employee s infection status shall be protected and a support system consisting of medical, psychological and professional counselling will be provided. Serology results will be kept in the employee s occupational health file and will not be released without the employee s expressed written permission.
13 11 Bibliography Health Canada, Preventing the Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens in Health Care and Public Service Settings. Health Protection Branch, LCDC Health Canada, An Integrated Protocol to Manage Health Care Workers Exposed to Bloodborne Pathogens. Health Protection Branch, LCDC, LCDC Workplace Environment Health & Safety Reporter, Infectious Diseases-Guidelines, Standards and Regulations. September Sewell, DL. Laboratory-Associated Infections and Biosafety. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, July 1995; Rogers, B. Occupational Health Nursing Concepts and Practise. W. B. Saunders Company, 1994.
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