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Stop sticks: Reducing the risk of needlestick injuries in paramedic practice
journal contributionposted on 11.10.2018, 00:00 by K James, C O Brien, Alan BattAlan Batt
At any moment while performing patient care duties, paramedics are at risk of exposure to blood and infection from blood-borne pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). According to Public Health Agency of Canada, in 2014 a total of 65,040 Canadians were infected with HIV with one in five unaware that they had contracted the virus. In 2015 2,096 individuals were newly diagnosed. Furthermore, in 2011 461,000 Canadians had a history of HCV with 220,000-246,000 chronically affected.(1,2) Unlike many other health care professionals, paramedics work in ever changing environments such as an accident scene, locations with limited visibility or space, and most commonly, in the back of a moving ambulance. A paramedic's scope of practice includes administering medications via injection, blood glucose sampling, and in some services, IV cannulation. Patient condition can be unpredictable as they may be disoriented, violent, experiencing uncontrollable haemorrhaging, or may need to be resuscitated.