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Am J Infect Control. 2008 Apr;36(3):165-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2007.04.278.

Home health care registered nurses and the risk of percutaneous injuries: a pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Sociomedical Studies, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Home health care is the fastest-growing sector in the health care industry, expected to grow 66% over the next 10 years. Yet data on occupational health hazards, including the potential risk of exposure to blood and body fluids, associated with the home care setting remain very limited. As part of a larger study of bloodborne pathogen risk in non-hospital-based registered nurses (RNs), data from 72 home health care nurses were separately analyzed to identify risk of blood/body fluid exposure.


A 152-item self-administered mailed risk assessment questionnaire was completed by RNs employed in home health care agencies in New York State.


Nine (13%) of the home health care nurses experienced 10 needlesticks in the 12-month period before the study. Only 4 of the needlesticks were formally reported to the nurse's employer. The devices most frequently associated with needlesticks were hollow-bore and phlebotomy needles, and included 3 needles with safety features. Exposure was most commonly attributed to patient actions, followed by disposal-related activities.


These data suggest that home health care nurses may be at potential occupational risk for bloodborne pathogen exposure. Risk management strategies tailored to the home health care setting may be most effective in reducing this risk.

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