Occupational exposure to infection risk and use of personal protective equipment by emergency medical personnel in the Republic of Korea

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Few studies of occupational exposure (OE) to infectious risk among emergency medical personnel (EMP) or their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been conducted in the Republic of Korea.


To determine the status of OE to infectious risks and use of PPE.


A convenience sample of 907 questionnaires (response rate, 88.5%) was collected from September 1, 2014, to January 31, 2015, in 5 metropolitan Korean cities.


Respiratory diseases were significantly prevalent (44.5%) and influenza (29.5%) was the most frequently reported illness. An exposure report was only made in 19.5% of cases. The primary reason for OE report noncompletion was the complexity of the reporting process (23.9%). A total of 365 participants reported OE to body fluids and blood (40.2%) with needlestick injury being the most frequent OE type (17.6%). More than 5 years of job experience (47.8%) (P < .001) and region (city) (P = .003) significantly increased OE to body fluids and blood. Puncture-resistant containers (71.9%) and disposable gloves (68.9%) were used. Job training and education on infection risks and use of PPE were not uniformly conducted (77.5%). Anxiety about OE to risk of infection from patients was common among EMP (63.2%).


EMP experienced significant OE to infectious risk and use PPE inadequately. Surveillance and education programs regarding OE should be developed.

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