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

  • Winifred L. Boal
  • Jack K. Leiss
  • Jennifer M. Ratcliffe
  • Sara Sousa
  • Jennifer T. Lyden
  • Jia Li
  • Janine Jagger
Original Article



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 



This study was supported by cooperative agreement number U01 OH04266-01 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winifred L. Boal
    • 1
  • Jack K. Leiss
    • 2
  • Jennifer M. Ratcliffe
    • 3
  • Sara Sousa
    • 3
  • Jennifer T. Lyden
    • 4
  • Jia Li
    • 1
  • Janine Jagger
    • 5
  1. 1.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)CincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable CommunitiesMebaneUSA
  3. 3.Constella GroupDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Advance Health SolutionsLa JollaUSA
  5. 5.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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