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Entry level health-care workers and risk of infection
Sep 25, 2005


Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my question.

I'm a med school applicant concerned with risk of disease transmission at work.

As a nurses' aide at an ER, I clean floors and surfaces in common areas (among many other duties.) When disinfecting blood spills etc, I typically wear goggles -- in other housekeeping work I don't unless it's particularly messy.

Fairly common scenario: got a sprinkle of water from a very dirty floor mop into my eye today. The cleaning liquid is mild enough not to harm my eye, but what about pathogens on the surfaces that end up in the mop/other equipment?

Considering there are a ton of germs on the floors and other surfaces, even if there's no blood or other bodily fluids visible to the eye, what would be the level of disease risk? I'd so like to put my mind at rest so I can concentrate on learning and observing what goes on at the ER. What I do is messy, but it's a great job for learning about hospital work.

Colleagues have commented on the same problem, ("why does water always have to hit your EYE?"), but we just can't go around wearing goggles all the time doing every chore that involves water and dirty surfaces (that would look pretty amusing.)

Thanks so much in advance.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I would consider this a very low risk of transmission since we are mainly concerned about frank blood or body fluids in the eye per se. Even then the risk of transmission is low through this route.

Dr. McGovern

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