Objective: Develop national estimates of compliance with infection control guidelines by workers in healthcare facilities to prevent occupational transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus.
Design: A national survey of 3,094 workers in hospitals.
Settings: United States ambulatory care hospitals with emergency rooms.
Results: While the sampled hospitals had policies that incorporated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) infection control guidelines, only 55% of patient care staff, 56% of physicians, and 30% of housekeeping staff reported receiving at least one of the shots recommended in the HBV vaccination series. About one half of patient care staff reported that they recapped used needles at least sometimes after giving injections and after drawing blood. Only 43% of patient care staff "always" wore gloves to draw blood. While most patient care staff "always" changed gloves between patients, only 61% reported that they "always" washed their hands after taking off their gloves. One half of patient care staff reported a percutaneous exposure to a patient's blood, and one quarter reported a percutaneous exposure in the past year. The most common cause of these exposures was recapping used needles.
Conclusions: Efforts to reduce exposures to bloodborne pathogens will involve compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration bloodborne pathogens standard and the CDC's infection control guidelines, continued education and training, and emphasis on engineering controls where applicable.