Working in Healthcare Can Be Dangerous For One's Health
By Anne Harding
NEW YORK NOV 19, 2008 (Reuters Health) - A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that health care workers are more likely to die from bloodborne infections and related illnesses than people working in other occupations.
"There is evidence that over the past 20 to 25 years health care workers have been more likely to die of these kinds of infections than other workers are," Dr. Sara E. Luckhaupt of the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati told Reuters Health.
"What we can't say is how much of this is occupational exposure and how much is non-occupational exposure, so it's important to think about both," she added. Past investigations have suggested that most of these infections were not contracted on the job.
Needlesticks and other accidents on the job expose nurses, doctors and other health care workers to infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, Luckhaupt and her NIOSH colleague Dr. Geoffrey M. Calvert note in a report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
The researchers had previously found that male health care workers are at increased risk of HIV and viral hepatitis. They conducted the current study to examine whether death from these infections is also higher among workers in the field.
Luckhaupt and Calvert looked at data from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance system for 1984 to 2004 on 248,550 deaths from HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and liver cancer and cirrhosis, both of which can be consequences of viral hepatitis.