Percutaneous exposure incidents - prevalence, knowledge and perceptions of dental personnel and students at a dental training site in KwaZulu-Natal
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Healthcare workers, including dental practitioners and dental students, are at risk of occupational exposure to blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis B, C and HIV. The present study set out to determine the prevalence, knowledge, management and perceptions of percutaneous injuries among staff and students at a dental training institute in Durban, KwaZulu - Natal with a view to identifying policies aimed at reducing the incidence. The prevalence of percutaneous injuries experienced by dental staff and students from 2001 to 2011 was determined. The levels of knowledge and their management of percutaneous injuries were determined among current dental staff and students. The dental department sustained 40% of total Hospital injuries, and of these 76% were suffered by students and 24% by staff. 22% of the sample had sustained a percutaneous injury, and of these, 57% had endured more than one and 24%, three or more injuries. Most current respondents had reported the incident (81%) and had taken the initial dose of post exposure prophylaxis; however, only 22% had taken the medication for the recommended period of four weeks. Avoiding percutaneous injuries by adopting safe work practices is probably the best practice to prevent transmission of blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis and HIV.