You may achieve a sense of purpose and pride because you help save lives by working in a Pennsylvania hospital. Even when you go home from work exhausted and experience frustrations and sadness, you still believe in what you do.
You also believe that the hospital keeps your best interests in mind when it comes to your safety. Any number of hazards exists in the hospital environment, from infections and combative patients to bloodborne pathogens. It is this last hazard that will be the focus of this article.
What protections should the hospital have in place?
You could contract any number of severe or deadly health conditions from a patient’s blood. The hospital should have certain protections in place to prevent your exposure to it as much as possible, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Some of those protections include the following:
- Assuming that all blood and other potentially infectious materials, referred to as OPIM, are, in fact, infectious
- Using equipment and other devices that remove infectious materials from the environment
- Providing the appropriate personal protection equipment
- Instituting practices that limit exposure to blood and OPIM
- Providing all required training regarding bloodborne pathogens and OPIM
- Establishing a protocol if exposure occurs
- Instituting post-exposure follow up evaluations and care
- Affixing warning labels to containers used for the disposal of blood and OPIM
The hospital should also maintain records regarding the training of all personnel and continue to keep employees abreast of any policy or procedure changes designed to increase safety.
What happens if I am exposed anyway?
Even when you and the hospital take every precaution, accidents can still happen. You could find yourself suffering from some sort of ailment from the exposure. In that case, you could end up out of work for some time and in the need of urgent medical care. While you and your doctors work on your recovery, you could lose much needed income and incur significant medical bills.
You deserve the right to apply for workers’ compensation benefits to ensure that your current and future medical expenses are covered. In addition, you may seek compensation for your lost income. However, you more than likely need to concentrate on your health and recovery while avoiding any undue stress that could affect your health. In that case, you may benefit from allowing someone with experience in this field to advocate for you and pursue all of the benefits to which you may be entitled.