All laboratory accidents and potential exposures must be reported to the supervisor and safety officer, who will immediately arrange to send the individual to employee health or an outside occupational health physician. Immediate medical care is of foremost importance; investigation of the accident should take place only after the employee has received appropriate care. If the accident is a needlestick injury, for example, the patient should be identified and the risk of the laboratorian acquiring a blood-bome infection should be assessed. The investigation helps the physician determine the need for prophylaxis, that is, HBIG (hepatitis B virus immunoglobulin) or an HBV booster immunization. The physician also is able to discuss the potential for disease transmission to family members following, for example, exposure to a patient with Neisseria meningitidis. Follow-up treatment should also be assessed including, for example, drawing additional sera at intervals of 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months for HTV testing. Finally, the safety committee or, at minimum, the laboratory director and safety officer should review the acddent to determine whether it could have been prevented and to delineate measures to be taken to prevent future accidents. The investigation of the accident and corrective action should be documented in writing in an incident report.
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