JOURNAL ARTICLE

Epidemiological characteristics of occupational blood exposures of healthcare workers in a university hospital in South Korea for 10 years

H S Oh, S E Yi, K W Choe
Journal of Hospital Infection 2005, 60 (3): 269-75
15949619
This study investigated the epidemiological characteristics of occupational blood exposures (OBEs) of healthcare workers (HCWs) in South Korea, and examined trends of OBEs after implementing blood exposure prevention (BEP) programmes. The study was conducted between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 2001 at a university-affiliated acute care hospital in Seoul. The BEP programmes comprised in-service education, hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination, and postexposure evaluation and prophylaxis. From 959 reported cases of OBEs, the crude incidence density (ID) was 2.62 cases per 100 person-years. The major risk groups for OBEs were physicians (ID 4.34) and new employees. The major type of OBE was from sharps injuries, including needlesticks (94.0%). OBE cases occurred more frequently during the spring (36.4%). The frequency of the serological tests of anti-hepatitis B surface antigen of HCWs changed significantly each year (P<0.05). The major serological risk for source patients was HBV (52.1%), but the risks for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) increased significantly each year (P<0.05). There were no seroconversion cases following OBEs among the tested HCWs. In summary, we established the epidemiological characteristics of OBEs in a South Korean university hospital, and reduced the risk of OBEs of major risk groups by BEP programmes. We also found an increase in the risk of HCV and HIV during the study period, suggesting that OBEs could be a serious threat to HCWs.

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