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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2000 Jan-Mar;4(1):57-61.

EMTs' knowledge regarding transmission of infectious disease.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Summa Health, Akron, Ohio 44304, USA.



To describe EMTs' knowledge of CDC universal precaution guidelines and transmission routes for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis, meningitis, and tuberculosis (TB) and their perceived exposures to and concerns about these diseases.


A convenience sample of EMTs were surveyed at mandatory continuing education meetings in a midwest community (pop. 523,191) between October 1 and November 30, 1996. The survey contained 101 questions about knowledge of universal precautions, transmission routes, postexposure actions, personal and family concerns, and demographics. Correct responses were based on CDC guidelines, and incorrect answers were added.


Four hundred of 425 surveys (94%) were returned. Eighty-one percent of the EMTs were full-time paramedics with 9.4 (95% CI 8.7-10.0%) years of experience. Seventy-five percent reported HIV, hepatitis, and TB education, while 57% reported meningitis education within the preceding year. Ninety-one percent knew universal precautions should be used with every patient. Needlestick was correctly reported as a transmission route for HIV (98%) and hepatitis (92%), but incorrectly reported for TB (37%) and meningitis (60%). Tuberculosis (94%) and meningitis (64%) were correctly identified as airborne. Thirty-four percent of the EMTs reported inadequate knowledge of infectious diseases (IDs) to protect themselves. Their perceived exposure for all four diseases ranged from 65% to 73%, but only 10-40% reported follow-up testing. Families' concern about EMTs' exposure was reported as moderate to high by 63% of the respondents.


There appears to be a need for continuing education for EMTs focusing on the routes of transmission of IDs, their chance of exposure, appropriate use of protective equipment, and the need for follow-up testing. This may allow more effective use of protective equipment and allay fears of EMTs and their families.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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