Bloodborne Pathogens a quick overview:
What are bloodborne pathogens?
Bloodborne Pathogens are bacteria and viruses present in blood and body fluids that can cause disease in humans. 

Bloodborne pathogens are spread through:

 – direct contact

 – indirect contact

 – droplet transmission

 – vector-borne transmission


  Diseases of primary concern:

– Hepatitis B

– Hepatitis C 


How are bloodborne pathogens transmitted? 

Direct contact:  Occurs when infected blood or body fluids from one person enter another person’s body at a entry site.  

Indirect contact: 
 Occurs when a person touches an object that contains the blood or body fluid of an infected person, and that infected blood or body fluid enters the body at a entry site.

Droplet transmission: 
 Occurs when a person inhales droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.

Vector-borne transmission:
Occurs when the body’s skin is penetrated by an infectious source.

Four conditions must be met for transmission:

– A pathogen is present.

– There is enough of the pathogen present to cause disease.

A person is susceptible to the pathogen.

– The pathogen passes through the correct entry site.    

Remember this is all preventable with Universal /  Standard precautions.

Universal / Standard precautions you should take while providing care include:  

– Avoiding contact with blood and other body fluids.

Using personal protective equipment, such as disposable gloves, protective eyewear, protective footwear, gowns and breathing barriers.

Using safer equipment such as self-sheathing needles, needleless systems or sharps with engineered sharps protection.

– Placing sharps in proper containers.

– Cleaning and disinfecting all possibly contaminated work surfaces and equipment after each use.

 – Avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose while providing care or when exposure to infectious materials is possible.  

 – Avoid eating drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or lip balm, or handling contact lenses while providing care or when exposure to infectious materials is possible.  

– Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water or other disinfectant products immediately after providing care, even if you are using disposable gloves.  

– Use alcohol based rubs where handwashing facilities are not available.  

– Remove/dispose of soiled protective clothing as soon as possible.  

– Disposing of contaminated materials in appropriate receptacles

Exposure procedures:

Exposure incidents involve contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.

If there is an exposure:

– Clean the area of contact.

– Write down what happened.

– Notify your supervisor.

– Seek medical attention.

Follow your facility’s post-exposure policies and procedures.

For More information and references:

There are several resources available to you on the American Heart Association website at  

The Heartsaver Bloodborne Pathogens Course is designed to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for bloodborne pathogens training when paired with site-specific instruction.

The latest on bloodborne pathogens is at:  

You can find more information on bloodborne pathogens at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention website:  
Here are some helpful links:
You can find the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) Standard 1910.1030 on Bloodborne Pathogens on the OSHA website
You can find OSHA’s responses to frequently asked questions about the bloodborne pathogen standard on the OSHA website