Occupational Exposure to Blood Among Hospital Workers in Montenegro

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Abstract

This cross-sectional study was performed in nine Montenegrin hospitals to estimate the burden of occupational exposure to blood among hospital workers in Montenegro in 2010 using a modified Croatian self-reporting questionnaire on exposure to blood-borne infections. Of the 1043 respondents, 517 (49.6 %) reported exposure to blood. Variations between the hospitals were not significant, except for the hospital in Kotor, which stands out with the high percentage of exposed hospital workers (p<0.05). More than 77 % of exposures were not reported through standard hospital protocols at the time of the incident. The most exposed group to blood were nurses (357 of 517; 69.1 %), but the percentage of exposed nurses within the group did not stand out compared to other occupations and was close to that reported by physicians (50.57 % vs. 57.49 %, respectively). The number of hospital workers with appropriate HBV vaccination was surprisingly low (35.7 %) and significantly below the recommended best practice (at least two consecutive doses of HBV vaccine documented for 100 % of employees) (p<0.001). Even with its limitations, our study fills a gap in knowledge about the actual number of sharps incidents and other occupational exposure to blood among hospital workers in Montenegro as well as about the issue of underreporting, which is very common. It also confirms the urgent need for active implementation of special, comprehensive measures to prevent needle-stick and other sharps injuries. Constant staff training, life-long learning, and standardising post-exposure procedures are also recommended.

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