TO ALL NURSES

  1. Hi,

    I'm a nursing student at the moment and I understand that nurses have contact with patients that have deadly diseases. We all know that is one description of the job. Some of those diseases can change one's life forever such as AIDS. Consequently, have you nurses ever get infected from those disease or any co-worker you know? If you don't know anyone or know any percentage of those incident that happen please let me know.
    I know accident will always happen in all kinds of professions for instance, firefighters, policemen and so on . I just need to know how is it for nurses. Thank you.
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   CEN35
    Hanging,

    I dont know the stats, I'm would be willing to bet, that they are less than 1% though. The thing that kills me, is when someone mentions a "fatal illness", the first most common answer is "Cancer", the second most comon thought is "AIDS". Why is this so weird I have told people over and over, that HIV should not be their biggest fear. Hepatitis should be their biggest fear. Unfortunately the only vaccination is for Hepatitis B. Even worse, C and D seem to be more prevalent, and yes they can kill you.
    HIV? yeah ok IV drug use, and intercourse (point of exit to point of entry). HIV does not live outside the "perfect enviroment" of the body very well. I beleive it is about 30 seconds or less. Hepatitis can live in dried blood, outside the body for up to 72 hours at any temperature. It is a much hardier virus. (NOte: The term "live" is actually irrelavent, since we all know viruses are not living things.) So I guess the more pertanent term is contagious/infectious.
    Yes I know someone who contracted Hepatitis (and this happened long after I was preaching that hepatitis was a more important concern than HIV), and he never stuck himself.....and he doesn't fool around. You have to remember, we are all suseptable to it though. All it takes is one person at a restaraunt to not wash their hands (if they have it), after going to the bathroom. We alll know the routes and patho.

    Bottom line, every job has its risks. Going out to dinner and having someone prepare it for you.

  4. by   fiestynurse
    Hanging, it is important for you to understand that there are certain health risks when working as a nurse. However, these risks can be greatly reduced by following the proper precautions. Never cut corners when it comes to your own safety. Get the Hep B vaccine series that I am sure has been offered to you. Always wear gloves and other protective equipment when dealing with any kind of body fluid. Educate yourself in the use of all the new needleless systems that are coming out on the market now. Follow the proper precautions when it comes to radiation exposure or exposure to caustic chemicals or drugs. I have been a nurse for over 23 years and have never contracted any deadly deseases, as you say. I also have never personally known any nurses who have contracted a deadly desease at work. So, my conclusion is that it must be a small percent. Not to scare you, but I am more worried about violent patients, disabling back injury, accumulative latex allergy, and nondeadly deseases. Again, if this is a concern of yours - EDUCATE YOURSELF, PROTECT YOURSELF!

    P.S. Rick, your statements above were well
    said and right on! A friend of mine was
    just diagnosed with Hep C - very scary!

    [ May 30, 2001: Message edited by: feistynurse ]
  5. by   km rn
    I agree Hepatitis presents a bigger threat than AIDS, etc.

    However, also look at disability issues - neck, back, shoulder, etc. injuries disable many nurses every year.

    Recognize the risks and do what you can to protect yourself - standard precautions, pre-shift stretching exercises, etc.
  6. by   P_RN
    A Resident physician at our facility died 3 years ago from AIDS she contracted by needle stick when she was an ER nurse.

    A friend of mine contracted Hepatitis C from exposure at work in the PACU.

    These are the only 2 I know of in my 27+ years.

    I have had many more work related injuries; concussion from patient kick, torn rotator cuff, and most recently disabling spinal injury that has ended my entire career for me...all from work. I agree the ergonomic injuries are worse.
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Here is info obtained from my work as safety committee co-chair. Karen

    Annual Number of Occupational Percutaneous Injuries and Mucocutaneous Exposures to Blood or Potentially Infective Biological Substances(revised 6/15/98)

    Source:http://www.med.virginia.edu/epinet/estimates.html

    The following figures were calculated based on 1996 EPINet data. We do not know to what degree new HIV treatments have affected health care worker risk of HIV infection. They have probably reduced the risk somewhat since there are now fewer AIDS patients in hospitals.

    We estimated percutaneous injuries and blood and body fluid exposures in one year, based on:
    30 injuries per 100 occupied hospital beds reported (from our national EPINet data for 1996)
    600,000 occupied hospital beds in the U.S.
    180,000 injuries in one year reported in hospitals (.3 x 600,000)

    39% of incidents not reported (according to surveys conducted in 6 EPINet hospitals in 1996-1997) = 295,082 injuries occurred in hospitals

    double this figure because 50% of health care workers work outside of hospital settings (total = 590,164 percutaneous injuries)

    according to EPINet data for 1996, an additional 1/3 of reported exposures (total = 196,721 mucocutaneous exposures) involve skin/non-intact skin or mucous membrane contact with blood or at-risk biological substances with can also transmit HIV, HBV, HCV

    Total annual percutaneous and mucocutaneous exposures to blood or at-risk biological substances in the U.S. in 1996 = 786,885

    Risk of Infection Following a Single HIV, HBV, or HCV-Contaminated Needlestick or Sharp Instrument Injury(revised 5/09/01)

    HIV 0.25% - 0.4%

    HBV 6% - 30%

    HCV 0.4% - 1.8%

    The CDC estimates that 400 new occupational HBV infections occurred in 1995 among U.S. health care workers, down from 17,000 in 1983. (Arch Intern Med 1997;157:2601-2603)
    [due to immunization with Hep B vaccine]

    Assuming that between 1% and 2% of patients are HIV-positive (and therefore that 1% to 2% of needlesticks are HIV-contaminated) between 18 to 35 new occupational HIV infections would occur from percutaneous injuries each year. Infections resulting from blood exposures to non-intact skin or mucuous membranes would add between 2 to 4 cases (based on a transmission rate of .09% for a mucous membrane exposure).

    Assuming that between 2% and 10% of patients are HCV-positive (Dr. Richard Garvin, Hepatitis Branch, CDC), between 59 to 1,180 new occupational HCV infections would occur each year. Infections resulting from blood exposures to non-intact skin or mucous membranes would add between 16 to 393 cases (assuming that the transmission rate was between 0.4% and 1.8% per exposure, with lower limit from Dr. Giuseppe Ippolito, Italy, 1999).

    The consequences of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens are not only infections. Each year, thousands of health care workers are affected by psychological trauma during months of waiting for notification of serological results. Other personal consequences can include postponement of childbearing, altering sexual practices, side effects of prophylactic drugs, infection, chronic disabilities, loss of employment, denial of worker compensation claims, liver transplant, and premature death.

    [ May 30, 2001: Message edited by: NRSKarenRN ]

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