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Daily News Archive
From January 8, 2001

The CDC Reports on Hospital Staff Exposed to Toxic Levels of Organophosphates While Treating Contaminated Patients

The Center For Disease Control's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Vol. 49, Nos. 51 & 52, reports that emergency room staff are at risk of being poisoned through secondary contamination. The article describes three cases of occupational illness associated with organophosphate (OP) poisoning as health-care workers attended a person that had intentionally ingested a concentrated OP mixed with xylene and other hydrocarbons solvents. This represents the third episode reported during 2000 to the Georgia Poison Center of this type worker contamination. It underscores the importance of health-care workers using personal protection equipment and health-care facilities establishing and following decontamination procedures in areas of acute care. These stories also highlight the extreme toxicity of these pesticides.

The report concludes that depending on the extent of the contamination, health-care workers treating patients that are contaminated with toxic chemicals should use level C protection (full face mask and powered/nonpowered canister/cartridge filtration respirator) or level B protection (supplied air respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus). To prevent dermal absorption, chemical barrier protection appropriate to the chemical are recommended.

To read the entire article, visit the CDC's website at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4951a2.htm.