Police and health workers infected with hepatitis!

Pressmeddelande   •   Jul 27, 2012 08:00 CEST

World Hepatitis Day 28 July.
Rose manifestation by damged health workers city of Uppsala 28 July!
New statistics from AFA insurance company shows large number of unrecorded cases.

Statement from The Swedish Association of Health Professionals President Sineva Ribeiro.

Sweden Press Release 27 July 2012!

Since 2001, forty cases of professional staff mainly medical staff and police officers, got stung on needles or cut at work and were classified as occupational injury at AFA insurance company.

All have been infected with the viral disease hepatitis, with major implications for health, economic and psychological well-being. Many still unrecorded.There are tens of thousands of employees without adequate protection in the service and where the damage has never been reported. On Saturday the issue is highlighted through a Rose manifestation in Uppsala.

Already five years ago the media reported that the Uppsala University Hospital had failed to reported incidents in where health professionals had accidently got stung on needles or got cut while in contact with patients with known blood borne infection. Since then the situation has not improved. According to the hospital's own statistics for 2010 (latest figures available) 580 employees of the County Council in Uppsala were in need of medical attention at the hospital´s infectious disease clinic after exposure to bloodborne pathogens.At least fifty-two of whom had been exposed to both hepatitis and HIV infection, yet only five cases reported under the Work Environment Authority.The Work Environment Ordinance says that any incident of known or strongly suspected risk of blood contamination needs to be notified by the employer. Violating the work environment regulation is a crime that could lead to prosecution, police report or notification to the authority of Work Environment.

Sharps injuries can lead to health workers suffer from hepatitis or HIV and more than 20 other blood-borne infections.

According to Kaj Johansson, RN who is also the initiative taker of the "580 yellow roses" manifestation on International Hepatitis Day 28 July at the Uppsala University Hospital  is a deterrent example.

-My professional groups of mostly women, stand in the forefront regarding the risks of handling syringes and needles at work .Police officers, cleaners and laundry staff are professionals also exposed to risks from discarded needles handled incorrectly or where addicts hide their used needles in police searches.

-To become infected with HIV or hepatitis, and risk more than 20 other blood-borne diseases in the service is extremely serious. When the employer does not care to follow up there will be no improvement, says Kaj.

WHO is running a campaign since 2003 and in 2010 the EU adopted a directive, 2010/32/EU a framework for how sharps injuries in the service should be prevented. Despite this and the existing Swedish regulations, the protection against potentially fatal infection are completely inadequate in many workplaces. In addition, situations with sharps injuries incidents are not handled correctly or not at all

– Hospital management and the responsible county politicians have ignored issues for many years. There must be a change, staff from vulnerable groups must be given adequate protection and serious workplace accidents must be reported, says Kaj.

The Swedish Association of Health Professionals President Sineva Ribeiro is concerned about employers' lack of responsibility and she says:

- We must have the same awareness and protection of sharps injuries as for radiation protection. No one would accept radiation damage due to lack of radiation protection. The employer is obliged to provide safety and needle safe injury products for all employees.

580 yellow roses in Uppsala on Hepatitis Day

On July 28 the International Hepatitis Day.

The day was established by WHO in 2011 to focus on hepatitis B and C. According to WHO, there are some 35 million people working in health care in the world. Three million of these are exposed annually for exposure to hepatitis or HIV through sharps injuries.In the EU, there are estimated one million sharps injuries in healthcare annually

To draw attention to hepatitis issues Kaj Johansson and colleagues Kia Lundström och Lisa Adolfsson will be handing out 580 yellow roses at Uppsala University Hospital entrances between 10:00 - 17:00 as symbolic action of the 580 colleagues who in 2010 sought treatment after they have been exposed to sharps injuries and blood exposure.

The requirements for employers, hospital management and county politicians are:

- Vaccination of high risk groups according to Swedish official recommendations

- Perform rapid transition for needle protected material

- Educate health professionals to National and EU recommendations

- Report all sharps injuries under The Work Environment Ordinance

Facts on work injuries
Statistics from the AFA insurance company indicates forty approved work accidents in which personnel pricked or cut himself, and were after diagnosed with hepatitis. Of the forty accidents: twenty-nine were in health care, six police officers, three cleaners and two security personnel.

Facts about Hepatitis and HIV
According to WHO, there are 240 million infected with hepatitis B and 150 million infected with hepatitis C. In Sweden, about 45 000 infected with hepatitis C. Complications of hepatitis C is the most common reason for liver transplants in Sweden. Two hard hit groups of patients infected by the viral disease include hemophilia and patients who received blood transfusions before 1992.

For more information contact: Kaj Johansson mobile/cell 0046 70368 66 73