NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Emergency medical technician (EMT) risk of exposure to body fluids.

Hendley GE; Rittger K; Valley V; Lawrence S; Aprahamian C
National Conference on State-Based Occupational Health and Safety Activities, September 3-6, 1991, Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati, OH: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1991 Sep; :17-18
To identify the risk of exposure to patient body fluids for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) providing pre-hospital emergency care. Setting: The City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has a population of 605,000. Its EMS system comprises fire engines for on-scene treatment (EMT-Eng), ambulances for transport of non-critical patients (EMT-Amb), and paramedic units for critical care (EMT-PM). Methods: For a two-week period in the spring of 1990, all EMS units in the city completed an "Encounter Form" after all emergency patient encounters recording availability of body fluids, procedures performed and any actual "exposure" to body fluids. An "exposure" was defined as any direct contact of a patient body fluid with an EMT's body, clothing, or protective garments. During the two-week study period there were 2,805 patients with 4,014 total patient encounters (1.4 EMS units/patient). Study forms were submitted for 93% of all encounters. Blood was available for potential contact in 25% of patients. Other bloody fluids were available in an additional 1 % and non-bloody fluids in 10% of patients. Of the 2,805 patients, 548 (20%) were the source of an exposure. There were 1,419 exposures to 1,161 EMTs. The percent of EMTs that were exposed while interacting with a patient was 10% for an EMT-Amb, 15% for an EMT-Eng, and 20% for an EMT-PM. The number of EMTs exposed per patient was 0.20 for an EMT-Amb, 0.45 for an EMT-Eng, and 0.66 for an EMT-PM. Seventy-four percent of exposures involved blood/bloody fluid. Hands were involved in 96% of exposures; in 94% of these cases the hand was gloved, but in 4% of the cases the glove was torn. EMTs are at significant potential risk for exposure to body fluids and attention to their protection is needed.
Emergency-responders; Emergency-response; Body-fluids; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Occupational-exposure; Emergency-care; Health-care-personnel; Occupational-health; Protective-clothing; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Infectious-diseases
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings; Abstract
Fiscal Year
Source Name
National Conference on State-Based Occupational Health and Safety Activities, September 3-6, 1991, Cincinnati, Ohio
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division