0

The full content of Annals is available to subscribers

Subscribe/Learn More  >
Reviews |

Occupationally Acquired Infections in Health Care Workers: Part I

Kent A. Sepkowitz, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York. For the current author address, see end of text. Acknowledgment: The author thanks Bruce Artim, JD, for research assistance. Requests for Reprints: Kent A. Sepkowitz, MD, Infectious Disease Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, Box 288, New York, NY 10021.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1996;125(10):826-834. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-125-10-199611150-00007
Text Size: A A A

Background: Health care workers are at occupational risk for a vast array of infections that cause substantial illness and occasional deaths. Despite this, few studies have examined the incidence, prevalence, or exposure-associated rates of infection or have considered infection-specific interventions recommended to maintain worker safety.

Objectives: To review all recent reports of occupationally acquired infection in health care workers in order to characterize the type and frequency of infections, the recommended interventions, and the costs of protecting workers. Part I of this two-part review focuses on the historical and ethical aspects of the problem and reviews data on infections caused by specific airborne organisms.

Data Sources: A MEDLINE search and examination of infectious disease and infection control journals.

Data Selection: All English-language articles and meeting abstracts published between January 1983 and February 1996 related to occupationally acquired infections among health care workers were reviewed. Outbreak- and non-outbreak-associated incidence and prevalence rates were derived, as were costs to prevent, control, and treat infections in health care workers.

Data Synthesis: More than 15 airborne infections have been transmitted to health care workers, including tuberculosis, varicella, measles, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus infection. Outbreak-associated attack rates range from 15% to 40%. Most occupational transmission is associated with violation of one or more of three basic principles of infection control: handwashing, vaccination of health care workers, and prompt placement of infectious patients into appropriate isolation.

Conclusions: The risk for occupationally acquired infection is an unavoidable part of daily patient care. Infections that result from airborne transmission of organisms cause substantial illness and occasional deaths among health care workers. Further studies are needed to identify new infection control strategies to 1) improve protection of health care workers and 2) enhance compliance with established approaches. As health care is being reformed, the risk for and cost of occupationally acquired infection must be considered.

Figures

Tables

References

Letters

NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Comments

Submit a Comment
Submit a Comment

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.

Toolkit

Buy Now

to gain full access to the content and tools.

Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Advertisement
Related Articles
Related Point of Care
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.
(Required)
(Required)