International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 191–199

The national study to prevent blood exposure in paramedics: rates of exposure to blood


    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Jack K. Leiss
    • Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • Jennifer M. Ratcliffe
    • Constella Group
  • Sara Sousa
    • Constella Group
  • Jennifer T. Lyden
    • Advance Health Solutions
  • Jia Li
    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Janine Jagger
    • University of Virginia
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-009-0421-x

Cite this article as:
Boal, W.L., Leiss, J.K., Ratcliffe, J.M. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2010) 83: 191. doi:10.1007/s00420-009-0421-x



The purpose of this analysis is to present incidence rates of exposure to blood among paramedics in the United States by selected variables and to compare all percutaneous exposure rates among different types of healthcare workers.


A survey on blood exposure was mailed in 2002–2003 to a national sample of paramedics. Results for California paramedics were analyzed with the national sample and also separately.


The incidence rate for needlestick/lancet injuries was 100/1,000 employee-years [95% confidence interval (CI), 40–159] among the national sample and 26/1,000 employee-years (95% CI, 15–38) for the California sample. The highest exposure rate was for non-intact skin, 230/1,000 employee-years (95% CI, 130–329). The rate for all exposures was 465/1,000 employee-years (95% CI, 293–637). California needlestick/lancet rates, but not national, were substantially lower than rates in earlier studies of paramedics. Rates for all percutaneous injuries among paramedics were similar to the mid to high range of rates reported for most hospital-based healthcare workers.


Paramedics in the United States are experiencing percutaneous injury rates at least as high as, and possibly substantially higher than, most hospital-based healthcare workers, as well as substantially higher rates of exposure to blood on non-intact skin.


ParamedicsNeedlestickBlood exposureSurveyIncidenceOccupational health

Copyright information

© US Government 2009