23 Jun 2020
The Medical Board of Australia is encouraging practitioners and students to review the new Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses before they take effect on 6 July 2020.
The Board’s guidelines are for practitioners and students who perform exposure-prone procedures1 and registered health practitioners who are treating registered health practitioners or students living with a blood-borne virus who perform exposure-prone procedures.
The guidelines support those practitioners and students to comply with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) guidelines Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses.
The CDNA guidelines set out safe practice in relation to exposure-prone procedures and the hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and/or human immunodeficiency virus.
The Board’s guidelines also explain when a practitioner treating a registered health practitioner or student who performs exposure-prone procedures may have a responsibility to notify Ahpra if their patient is not complying with the CDNA guidelines and potentially poses a risk to the public.
At registration and renewal of registration, practitioners who perform exposure-prone procedures will have to declare that they comply with the CDNA guidelines.
Among other things, the CDNA guidelines recommend that practitioners who perform exposure-prone procedures take reasonable steps to know their blood-borne virus status and should be tested for blood-borne viruses at least once every three years.
This will mostly affect medical practitioners who perform surgical operations.
The Board will not ask for test results for the purposes of registration or renewal of registration but can take action if a practitioner makes a false declaration about complying with the CDNA guidelines.
Health practitioners living with a blood-borne virus who perform exposure-prone procedures can practise their profession if they comply with the CDNA guidelines. The CDNA guidelines provide details the circumstances under which practitioners can resume exposure-prone procedures.
The CDNA guidelines and helpful resources are available on the Department of Health website.
Practitioners who want further information about the classification of exposure-prone procedures and non exposure-prone procedures can view guidance here.
Practitioners who perform exposure-prone procedures and who are not living with a blood-borne virus can view an information sheet developed by the CDNA to find out more about how to meet the guidelines.
A CDNA information sheet is also available for practitioners who are living with a blood-borne virus and performing exposure-prone procedures.
1 Exposure prone procedures are procedures where there is a risk of injury to the healthcare worker resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the healthcare worker. These procedures include those where the healthcare worker’s hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.