In 1987, the CDC published guidelines known as Universal Precautions, to reduce the risk of HBV transmission in clinical laboratories and blood banks. In 1996, these safety recommendations became known as Standard Precautions. These precautions require
that blood and body fluids from every patient be treated as potentially infectious. The essentials of Standard Precautions and safe laboratory work practices are as follows:
Figure 4-8 Cartons for broken glass. (Courtesy Lab Safety Supply Inc., Janesville, Wis.)
Figure 4-9 Sharps containers. (Courtesy Lab Safely Supply Inc., Janesville, Wis.)
• Take special care to avoid injuries with sharp objects such as needles and scalpels.
The CDC's Standard Precautions should be followed for handling blood and body fluids, including all secretions and excretions (e.g., serum, semen, all sterile body fluids, saliva from dental procedures, and vaginal secretions) submitted to the microbiology laboratory. Standard Precautions do not apply to feces, nasal secretions, saliva (except in dental procedures), sputum, sweat, tears, urine, or vomitus unless they are grossly bloody. The consistent practice of Standard Precautions by health care workers handling all patient material will lessen the risks associated with such specimens. Mouth pipetting is strictly prohibited. Mechanical devices must be used for drawing all liquids into pipettes. Eating, drinking, smoking, and applying cosmetics are strictly forbidden in work areas. Food and drink must be stored in refrigerators in areas separate from the work area. All personnel should wash their hands with soap and water after removing gloves, after handling infectious material, and before leaving the laboratory area. In addition, it is good practice to store sera collected periodically from all health care workers so that, in the event of an accident, a seroconversion (acquisition of antibodies to an infectious agent) can be documented (see Chapter 10).
All health care workers should follow Standard Precautions whether working inside or outside the laboratory. When collecting specimens outside the laboratory, individuals should follow these guidelines:
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