Exposure Prevention Plan

Many needlesticks and other cuts can be prevented by using safer techniques (for example, using needle re-cappers instead of replacing needle caps by hand), disposing of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers, and using safer devices. Exposures to the eyes, nose, mouth, or skin may be prevented by using appropriate barriers (gloves, eye and face protection, and gowns) when there is a risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens (e.g., through contact with blood or a blood/saliva mix).

Always handle used sharps carefully, and discard disposable sharps (such as blades,needles and broken carpules) in a rigid sharps container to prevent accidental puncture injury. In addition to the precautions previously discussed, some work practices can help prevent exposure to potentially infectious body fluids. These work practices include:

  • Using a mirror or retractor instead of fingers to retract tissue.
  • Removing dental burs from the handpiece before replacing the instrument on the cart.
  • Maintaining a container for used sharps in the treatment area to allow disposal of needles, blades, and other sharps immediately after use.
  • Announcing instrument passes and carefully transferring instruments between operator and assistant with the blunt end towards the person receiving the instrument.
  • Minimizing spatter by using rubber dam and high-velocity evacuation (if available).
  • Using safety devices such as self-sheathing needles, retractable scalpels, and needle holders.6

Carefully handle sharp instruments during instrument reprocessing. Despite infection prevention precautions, exposures to bloodborne pathogens may occur, particularly when working in unfamiliar mission conditions. Make sure that all team members have documentation showing they have received the HBV vaccine series.

Designate a team member familiar with post-exposure protocols to receive reports of any worker potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens and initiate appropriate actions. All team members should be trained in the importance of reporting exposures immediately so that decisions about treatments can be made quickly. If post-exposure drugs are indicated, the recipient should be monitored for side effects by someone qualified to make treatment decisions.