Bloodborne Pathogens and Exposure Incidents

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Infection Prevention and Control for Healthcare Personnel. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Bloodborne Pathogens and Exposure Incidents

What is a bloodborne pathogen (BBP)?
A BBP is any infectious/pathogenic organism in human blood that can cause disease in humans. Many diseases can be transmitted through exposure to blood and OPIM, but the CDC notes that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the pathogens of primary concern.
What constitutes a BBP exposure incident?
OSHA defines a BBP exposure incident as contact via specific sites with blood or OPIM that results from the performance of a worker's duties. A BBP exposure incident occurs when contact with blood or OPIM occurs in one of the following manners:
  • Contact with the eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes (eg, nose)
  • Contact with non-intact skin (eg, cuts, scrapes, rashes, dermatitis, acne, hangnails)
  • Parenteral contact with a contaminated item (eg, a needle, glass, scalpel). Parenteral means there is a piercing of the skin or mucous membrane. Piercing can occur due to events such as needlesticks, cuts, abrasions, and human bites.