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Title: Occupational blood and body fluid exposure among emergency medical service providers in the eThekwini metropole of South Africa
Authors: Chetty, Melvin
Govender, Kevin P. 
Sobuwa, Simpiwe 
Keywords: Blood exposure;Blood body fluid exposure;Occupational blood exposure;Needlestick injuries;South Africa;Emergency Medical Service Providers;Paramedics;Blood body fluid exposure;Blood exposure;Emergency Medical Service Providers;Needlestick injuries;Occupational blood exposure;Paramedics;South Africa
Issue Date: Jun-2022
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Source: Chetty, M., Govender, K.P. and Sobuwa, S. 2022. Occupational blood and body fluid exposure among emergency medical service providers in the eThekwini metropole of South Africa. African Journal of Emergency Medicine. 12(2): 97-101. doi:10.1016/j.afjem.2022.01.001
Journal: African Journal of Emergency Medicine; Vol. 12, Issue 2 
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers in South Africa are among health care workers (HCW) most at risk of contracting infectious diseases due to occupational exposure to blood and body fluids (BBF). While the austere, dynamic, and challenging nature of the prehospital environment appears to be one of the primary drivers to this risk, the growing prevalence of bloodborne infections within the country; particularly Hepatitis B, C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), has inevitably compounded the problem. The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge, practices, and prevalence of BBF exposure among EMS providers in the eThekwini metropole of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


This cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was completed by 96 randomly selected EMS providers who worked for the state-run ambulance service and were stationed within the eThekwini metropole.


A total of 41 (42.7%) of the 96 respondents indicated memorable exposure to BBF at some point in their operational career. Exposure appeared to be mostly as a result of needlestick injuries (NSI) (63.4%), followed by BBF exposure into the eyes (19.5%). At the time of exposure, a total of 40 participants (97.6%) were wearing gloves, 22% (n = 9) were wearing facemasks, and 9.8% (n = 4) were wearing eye protection. Less than half of the respondents (46, 47.9%) were aware of existing EMS espoused BBF exposure policies, and 55 (57.3%) knew about post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV. Majority of the respondents (n = 74; 77.1%) indicated that they always recapped needles, and 46.9% (n = 45) dispose of sharps containers when completely full.


The findings suggest that BBF related knowledge and practices among EMS providers working in the eThekwini metropole may be inadequate, and may increase the risk of blood exposure. In order to improve knowledge, immediate provision of EMS-specific BBF exposure training is required.
ISSN: 2211-419X
2211-4203 (Online)
DOI: 10.1016/j.afjem.2022.01.001
Appears in Collections:Research Publications (Health Sciences)

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