Paramedics respond to emergency scenes in often uncontrolled settings without being aware of potential risks. This makes paramedicine one of the most dangerous occupations. One of these dangers is the risk of contracting infectious diseases. Research in this area is predominantly focused on compliance in the use of protective equipment, attitudes and perceptions of paramedics, infectious disease policy, and exposure rates to blood and body fluids. The purpose of this scoping review was to determine what is known about the impact of infectious disease on the health of paramedics.
Using the Arskey and O’Malley methodological framework, a scoping review was undertaken, which allows for a broad search of the available evidence.
The literature search identified eight articles for review that reported on paramedic exposure trends; the lack of reported blood-borne infections contracted, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); instances of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infections; and the higher prevalence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal infections amongst paramedics.
Exposure to infectious diseases is decreasing, yet it remains significant. The decrease is attributed to prevention strategies; however, paramedic knowledge and attitudes as well as the uncontrolled environment paramedics work in can be a barrier. Contraction of infectious diseases is generally low; exceptions to this are MRSA colonization, influenza, and SARS. Paramedics are at greater risk of acquiring these infectious diseases compared to the general public. The effect on the health of paramedics is not well reported.
, Thomas B , O’Meara P . Spelten E Everyday dangers – the impact infectious disease has on the health of paramedics: a scoping review. . 2017; 32( 2): 217– 223.