Purpose: This descriptive study of health care workers enrolled in a postexposure bloodborne pathogen management program had 3 goals: (1) to characterize their exposure incidents, (2) to assess health care workers' experience with the program, and (3) to identify strategies to improve the management of exposure incidents.
Methods: A confidential, self-administered, 5-page survey was mailed to 150 hospital employees who were recently evaluated in the employee health clinic for a blood/body fluid exposure.
Results: Sixty-five usable surveys were returned to the study office, representing a 43% response rate. Although the majority of the employees enrolled in the postexposure management program were generally satisfied with the overall quality of care they received, many respondents perceived a lack of social support during the lengthy follow-up period. Long-term distress related to the exposure was not uncommon. The respondents' suggestions for improvement focused on the need for department managers to become more personally involved when their staff members have an exposure incident.
Conclusion: These qualitative data suggest that additional studies are needed to assess both the short-term and long-term impact of exposure incidents on the health and well being of affected health care workers. In addition, because of a paucity of information in this area, studies are needed to assess both the effectiveness of the United States Public Health Service recommendations for postexposure management and the degree to which they have been implemented by health care facilities.