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Hepatitis and medical workers: A different type of injury

When most people think of on-the-job-injuries, they think of bad falls, being hit with a piece of equipment, injuring their backs or something similar.

In the medical field, however, the type of injuries someone can experience can be much different. Acquiring a hepatitis infection, for example, is one of the risks that many medical workers face daily.

There are several variants of hepatitis -- all of which cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is generally self-limiting. Hepatitis B and C, however, are long-term conditions that can cause significantly more damage to the victim's liver. The main difference between them is that hepatitis C is spread directly from blood-to-blood contact, such as through an accidental stick with a used needle, while hepatitis B can be contracted through virtually any exposure to an infected person's bodily fluids.

Most hospital workers and lab workers are well aware that contact with an infected patient's bodily fluids could expose them to hepatitis B, so they take precautions like getting a vaccine, masking, hand-washing and wearing gloves when a patient's hepatitis status is unknown.

Similarly, most medical workers know that an errant needle could expose them to hepatitis C -- but they may not be aware that their risk of contracting hepatitis C is actually 60% higher than normal. For those who work directly with blood -- like pathologists and phlebotomists -- the risk of infection triples.

If you're a medical worker who has contracted hepatitis C, the odds are very high that you are suffering from a work-related injury -- even if you aren't sure when it happened. Find out more about your legal rights and how you might be able to obtain appropriate compensation for your injury and suffering.

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