International Health Care Worker Safety Center - University of Virginia
Millions of healthcare workers face a daily risk of contracting life-threatening infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, from occupational exposures to patients' blood and body fluids. The International Healthcare Worker Safety Center (IHCWSC) at the University of Virginia is dedicated to reducing this risk. Under the leadership of Janine Jagger, M.P.H., Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in the prevention of occupational blood exposures, IHCWSC has made major contributions to needle safety in the U.S. and many other countries around the world.
IHCWSC has been devoted to research on the epidemiology and prevention of healthcare worker exposures to bloodborne pathogens for over a decade. IHCWSC published a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1988 on the characteristics of medical devices causing needlestick injuries. That groundbreaking research was instrumental in the development of a new generation of safer medical devices. Dr. Jagger created the EPINet surveillance system in 1991 to provide healthcare facilities with a standardized program for tracking needlestick injuries and fluid exposures. It is now used by over 1,500 healthcare facilities in the U.S., and others worldwide. IHCWSC has played a leading role in promoting policies and regulations in the U.S. to better protect healthcare workers from occupational exposures. Fellows trained through IHCWSC have helped conduct national surveillance, build consensus around sharps safety issues in relevant associations, and instituted protective measures in their facilities (especially in Japan).
Links to the health workforce crisis
Staff has worked closely with international colleagues to develop customized versions of EPINet. In 2007, IHCWSC established the Global Training Program in Occupational Exposure Prevention to help disseminate its knowledge and resources to healthcare thought leaders. IHCWSC focuses on three regions where it has established collaborative networks: sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Through the training program, on-the-ground research, and related region-specific activities, IHCWSC is building a cadre of healthcare professionals worldwide who are equipped with the training and practical tools to protect one of the world’s most valuable resources: healthcare workers.
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