Exposure of healthcare workers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to bloodborne viruses between July 1997 and June 2000: analysis of surveillance data

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 17 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:397
  1. Barry Evans, consultant epidemiologist (,
  2. Winnie Duggan, research nursea,
  3. Juliet Baker, research nursea,
  4. Mary Ramsay, consultant epidemiologista,
  5. Dominique Abiteboul, occupational physicianb the Occupational Exposure Surveillance Advisory Group.
  1. a Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Colindale, London NW9 5EQ
  2. b Study Group on Occupational Blood Exposure, Faculté Bichat, Paris Cedex 18, France
  1. Correspondence to: B Evans
  • Accepted 20 October 2000

The transmission of bloodborne viruses to healthcare workers can have serious consequences not only for clinical practice but also, because of the requirements of health and safety legislation, for their employers.1 In spite of guidance and education,2 however, many healthcare workers continue to be exposed to bloodborne viruses from percutaneous, mucocutaneous, or other injuries. An enhanced system of surveillance of occupational exposure to bloodborne viruses was introduced in mid-1997, developing the passive system that was set up after the first reported case (in 1984) in the United Kingdom of HIV seroconversion associated with needlestick injury.3

Methods and results

Since July 1997 occupational health departments have been requested to complete a brief form outlining the circumstances of any work related exposure to potentially infectious material from patients who are known to be positive for HIV antibodies or hepatitis C antibodies, or for hepatitis B surface antigens. For exposures to HIV or hepatitis C virus, the follow up at six weeks includes more information about the incident, baseline testing of both …

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