Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Sonia Miller, EdD, MSN, BSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC Manager for Infection Prevention & Control

Defense Health Agency (DHA)

Infection Prevention and Control Program, Clinical Quality Management Division (QMD)/Patient Safety

Revised Publication:
April 6, 2020
Original Publication:
October 2, 2014
Declarations of Conflicts of Interest:
  • Sonia Miller reports no potential conflicts of interest.


Preventing transmission of bloodborne viruses in healthcare settings requires a multifaceted approach, including promoting hepatitis B vaccination of all healthcare personnel who may have contact with blood or body fluids, considering all patients as potentially infectious, using appropriate barriers to prevent blood and body fluid contact, preventing percutaneous injuries by eliminating unnecessary needle use, implementing devices with safety features, using safe work practices when handling needles and other sharp devices, and safely disposing of sharps and blood-contaminated materials. Postexposure management is also an integral component of   a complete program to prevent infection following bloodborne pathogen exposure and an important element of workplace safety. This chapter focuses on the risk and management of occupational blood exposures.