Nurses' Body Fluid Exposure Reporting, HIV Testing, and Hepatitis B Vaccination Rates: Before and After Implementing Universal Precautions Regulations

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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether mandatory universal precautions changed nurses' body fluid exposure and reporting rates, hepatitis B vaccination rates, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing rates. Random cross-sectional surveys of nurses in Tennessee were conducted in 1991 and 1993 (n = 145 in 1991; n = 143 in 1993). The questionnaire in both surveys included frequency of body fluid exposures and reporting in the past year, and whether or not the respondent had received the hepatitis B vaccine or had been HIV tested. Findings indicated that self reported needlestick injuries decreased by 69%, and other sharps injuries decreased by 81%. Only 4.1% of all exposure incidents reported on this anonymous survey were reported to employee health officials, as required. Body fluid exposure incidents were the most common form of exposure (81%) and the most underreported. Hepatitis B vaccinations significantly increased (61.4% to 82.5%), with a nonsignificant increase in HIV testing (47.2% to 55.6%) from 1991 to 1993. Findings of this study suggest that the universal precautions regulatory mandate has been effective in increasing nurses' compliance to universal precautions. Body fluid contacts were significantly underreported and showed no decrease between 1991 and 1993.