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New for EMS/911 workers: infection prevention and control recommendations

Photo: gorodenkoff/iStockphoto

Rockville, MD — A new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality outlines ways that emergency medical service and 911 workers can be exposed to infectious pathogens and offers recommendations for infection prevention and control.

The report stems, in part, from a review of 25 observational studies. In addition, input was gathered from a panel of experts that included EMS clinicians, state-level EMS leaders, and members of professional emergency medicine and infectious diseases associations. AHRQ also looked at reports from state and federal government agencies and nongovernmental organizations “interested in infection prevention and control in the EMS and 911 workforce.”

Key highlights from the report:

  • Standard precautions, such as gloves, decrease the chance of needlestick exposures.
  • The number of workers who get vaccinated increases when clinics are available at the worksite, especially when combined with an active, targeted educational program with supervisor and peer support.
  • Mandatory influenza vaccine programs increase the likelihood of people getting vaccinated. Along with wearing gloves and practicing good hand hygiene, requiring influenza vaccine programs is recommended.

The agency says more research is needed on the effectiveness of N95 respirators and surgical facemasks as personal protective equipment, as well as infectious disease issues among 911 dispatchers.

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