Are Universal Precautions Effective in Reducing the Number of Occupational Exposures Among Health Care Workers? A Prospective Study of Physicians on a Medical Service

Edward S. Wong, Jennifer L. Stotka, Vernon M. Chinchilli, Denise S. Williams, C. Geri Stuart, Sheldon M. Markowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using a daily questionnaire, we prospectively studied 277 physicians from two hospital medical services for incidents of exposure to blood and body fluids and barrier use before and after the implementation of universal precautions. We found that implementation significantly increased the frequency of barrier use during exposure incidents from 54% before implementation to 73% after implementation of universal precautions. Implementation led to a decrease in the number of exposure incidents that resulted in direct contact with blood and body fluids (actual exposures), from 5.07 to 2.66 exposures per physician per patient care month, and to an increase in averted exposures in which direct contact was prevented by the use of barrier devices, from 3.41 exposures per patient care month before implementation to 5.90 exposures per patient care month after implementation. Implementation affected neither the types of body fluid or procedures involved nor the overall rate of exposure incidents (8.5 per patient care month) but, through an increase in barrier use, it did prevent direct contact with blood and body fluids and thus converted what would have been an actual exposure into an averted one. We conclude that universal precautions were effective in reducing the risk of occupational exposures among physicians on a medical service.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1128
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume265
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 6 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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