Original Article

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 191-199

First online:

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

  • Winifred L. BoalAffiliated withNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Email author 
  • , Jack K. LeissAffiliated withCedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities
  • , Jennifer M. RatcliffeAffiliated withConstella Group
  • , Sara SousaAffiliated withConstella Group
  • , Jennifer T. LydenAffiliated withAdvance Health Solutions
  • , Jia LiAffiliated withNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • , Janine JaggerAffiliated withUniversity of Virginia

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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.


Paramedics Needlestick Blood exposure Survey Incidence Occupational health