Blood detection: a key tool to hygiene and safety assessment
Bloodborne virus infection is a constant threat for those working with clinical wastes. Sharps injury is the obvious hazard, but infection may be transmitted also by splashes to the eyes or mucous membranes, or contamination of pre-existing skin lesions.
Basic safety and hygiene precautions should suffice. Proper packaging of wastes, puncture-resistant gloves or gauntlets, and effective handwashing when gloves are removed should be sufficient. But are hygiene standards acceptable?
To evaluate site hygiene, including waste management sites and those areas in waste producer premises where wastes are generated or stored pending onward disposal, an innovative new test procedure is available, to detect blood splashes including those invisible to the naked eye.
This has identified unexpected and unseen blood residues in the clinical environment, and on the outside of clinical waste sacks and boxes, prompting more extensive cleaning and environmental hygiene. Elsewhere, blood contamination of gloves, of door handles and other surfaces touched by gloved hands, and of other fittings and equipment items that should be protected from contamination point to deficiencies in glove use and associated hand hygiene.
Testing for latent blood contamination is now available. This can be used as part of a specific or more general environmental hygiene appraisal, to evaluate the efficacy of cleaning regimens, to assist in the training of staff, or to ensure compliance with hand and environmental hygiene and safety protocols.
The illustration shows blood residues picked up on a cotton swab wiped across a handrail. Though visibly dirty, there was no sign of blood residues, and no expectation that errors in glove use and hand hygiene deficiencies could have spread blood from clinical wastes. Using a Luminol reagent, blood residues produce a distinct blue chemoluminescence that can be visualised in situ, or sampled for later laboratory examination.
To compliment these studies, simulant studies are available that can be used to demonstrate the risks of cross-contamination, and of the efficacy and techniques for handwashing. This can be used as part of an overall staff training program, or as a ‘one-off’ demonstration/training session, as part of a more general safety briefing.
Contact Ian Blenkharn for further details and to discuss your requirements.
see also: Blenkharn JI. Luminol-based forensic detection of latent blood; an approach to rapid wide-area screening combined with Glo-Germ™ oil simulant studies. Journal of Hospital Infection 2008; 69: 405-406