Handling Bloodborne Pathogens with Care

Microbes in body fluids and blood, known as bloodborne pathogens, can cause infections including human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B and C. Following established protocols for medical waste disposal is critical for minimizing the chances of potentially life-threatening infections.

Bloodborne PathogensHow are people exposed?

Exposure can occur through sticks with needles and other sharp objects, along with direct contact with infected body fluids. Indirect contact — such as an object contaminated with body fluid touching someone’s skin — also can cause infection. In some cases, infection can occur through inhalation of infected drops of fluid.

To minimize the possibility of exposure to viruses and diseases, employers should create detailed plans that include proper protective equipment and clothing, training, vaccinations, signage and other measures.

Proper protocols for medical waste disposal:

Exposure to bloodborne pathogens is limited primarily by engineering controls such as medical devices without needles. Additional steps for proper disposal of potentially infected items include:

  • Biohazard bags for soiled gloves and clothing.
  • Proper labeling of containers.
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces.

The American Red Cross and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide detailed tips for proper medical waste disposal.

In homes, loose needles and other sharp items should never be placed in trash cans, and they should not be flushed down the toilet. Instead, they should be placed in proper disposal containers, the Food and Drug Administration advises.

While bloodborne pathogens can pose extreme risk, using proper methods for medical waste disposal can limit the possibility of infection.

For further questions on how to properly approach the task of disposing unfamiliar blood or fluids, please contact us today at 203-937-9501.