One of the most recent trends that continues to be discussed and improved is that of disease prevention via bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne pathogens for the most part are considered to be any type of bodily fluid that contains blood within it that could be harmful if transmitted to another individual(s). The bodily fluid is considered to be potentially infectious since it poses a risk to potential rescuers. Some of the various forms of bloodborne pathogens include but not limited to: Hepatitis B or C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This brings us to the practices of proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Decontamination.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be something as simple as placing your medical gloves over your hands to protect yourself from transferring any potentially infectious material from the victim to yourself or vice versa. Depending on the incident though, the potential rescuer must consider more advanced levels of PPE such as a cap, gown, face shield, and/or booties to protect themselves from potentially infectious materials. As a potential rescuer, it is of the utmost importance that you protect yourself and others from any and all forms of potentially infectious materials.
Decontamination is the process of cleaning equipment that has been exposed to potentially infectious materials such as blood, vomit, or urine. The process should begin by way of obtaining warm water along with a recommended cleaner and washing all instruments or materials with that solution. After all instruments or materials are clean, they can then be dried and placed back in service. Remember when handling those instruments or materials that you are still protecting yourself with a minimum PPE level which consists of gloves to ensure that you don’t accidentally cross-contaminate yourself with a potentially infectious material.
The whole process of safe PPE practice, decontamination, and understanding of bloodborne pathogens is created for your safety and the safety of the victim. We must do our best to ensure the process is always being utilized to its maximum capacity when victim contact is a possibility.
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