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Infectious Diseases on the Job

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Infectious Diseases on the job:

The healthcare professionals that take care of you are exposed to many different illnesses and diseases. By taking proper precautions, these healthcare professionals protect both themselves as well as their patients. The following are some of the basic precautions that can decrease the risk of infectious disease exposure in a healthcare setting:

  • Proper disposal of needles into specific sharps disposal containers is very important. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), US Department of Labor, most needlestick injuries occur during the following five activities:
    • when disposing of needles
    • when administering injections
    • when drawing blood
    • when recapping needles (not allowed)
    • handling trash and dirty linens
  • Each year, healthcare providers in hospitals suffer nearly 800,000 needlestick injuries.
  • It is important to use protective barriers such as rubber gloves, gowns, and eye and face protection.
  • Soiled linen should be bagged or put into a separate container at the location where it is used. Persons touching soiled linen should wear gloves and other protective garments.
  • Some hospital waste, from areas such as the laboratory, pathology, and items such as blood and sharp items require special precautions when being disposed off. However, the majority of hospital waste is deemed no more hazardous than residential waste.

Occupational exposure to infectious diseases , including tuberculosis, can also occur outside of a healthcare setting. Another, more obscure disease - psittacosis - affects people who come in close contact with an infected pet bird, such as in a pet store. Ask your physician what additional precautions you can take to avoid infectious exposure.