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Biohazard costs


Biological risk for healthcare workers

Tab 1 engHealthcare workers are exposed on a daily basis to a high risk of contracting severe infections, caused by over 30 pathogens, potentially dangerous, such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV, through accidental sharps injuries involving contaminated needles and other sharps. Exposure to biological risk can happen in two ways:
• Mucocutaneous exposure occurs through broken skin or the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth; it accounts for 25% of exposure incidents.
• Percutanoeus exposure refers to any transmission by penetration of the skin with needles and other sharps. It accounts for 75% of exposure incidents and it is the most dangerous route of transmission. Doctors and nurses are the healthcare professionals most likely be exposed to this biological risk, which is the most frequently reported work-related accident.
Every year, in Italy nearly 100,000 percutaneous exposures occur, and needles and syringes are the devices that are more frequently associated with these incidents.


Tab 2 engThe use of safety devices has resulted in an 80% decrease of accidental sharps injuries in 16 Italian hospitals throughout the 2003-2006 period. This trend was confirmed by other European studies as well.
The financial cost of each incident, including diagnosis, prophylaxis and post-exposure monitoring, ranges from 750 to 1,320€, and does not include indirect costs (loss of productivity and indemnity).
Overall direct costs for managing sharps injury accidents amounts to 72 million €.
Using safety devices can lead to saving over 13% compared to traditional devices.
In order to avoid accidents, healthcare workers must be properly trained, given adequate resources and allowed to operate in safe conditions.

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