Bloodborne Pathogens Avoidance
By Greg Friese
Category: Clinical Practice
The U.S. Fire Administration sends out email notifications of firefighter line-of-duty deaths. While undoubtedly tragic, it is important for us to learn from the causes of LODDs and consider risk mitigation strategies.
In March 2009, the USFA reported the death of a Fla. firefighter/EMT from a hepatitis C virus infection. According to the email, he contracted HCV while on duty.
Emergency medical responders, EMTs and paramedics are at risk of infection from HCV and other bloodborne pathogens while on the job. To minimize your risks of being exposed to bloodborne pathogen infection, follow these tips:
- Be actively engaged in regular bloodborne pathogen training. It is lifesaving information for which you should be physically and mentally present.
- Supplement your employer supplied training with information you can find from credible Web sites. Start with this CDC website about viral hepatitis: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/
- Use needle safety devices to prevent accidental needlesticks.
- Always use appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Report any exposures to your supervisor and/or local infection control officer as soon as possible.
Watch out for your partner’s safety. Call out the presence of sharps, blood and other personally infectious material, just as you would any other scene safety hazard. How else can emergency responders avoid exposure to bloodborne pathogens?