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Are Australia's healthcare workers stuck with inadequate needle protection?

Janine C Jagger
Med J Aust 2002; 177 (8): 405-406.
Published online: 21 October 2002

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In this issue of the Journal, Whitby and McLaws (page 418) provide a thorough epidemiological account of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens by hollow-bore needles in one hospital.1 More studies such as theirs are needed in Australia, where there has been relatively little attention focused on this issue, as indicated by the few references to studies by Australian investigators cited in their article. As an American I find this surprising, because many successful prevention programs introduced in Australia have earned the admiration of public health professionals in other countries. Three examples come to mind: laws requiring seatbelt use and advanced passenger protection in motor vehicles; progressive HIV prevention programs; and programs to prevent ultraviolet light exposure and skin cancer. I am among the admirers of Australia's strong prevention record. In light of these progressive programs, how might one explain the relative neglect in Australia of such a serious occupational risk as bloodborne pathogen exposure?

  • Janine C Jagger

  • University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA.

Correspondence: jcj@virginia.edu

Competing interests:

Our research centre receives financial support from several competing medical product manufacturers.

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