Paramedics work to save lives in difficult conditions. Sometimes this task can be life-threatening for medical professionals themselves. EMS providers in Illinois face the ongoing risk of assault, motor vehicle accidents, lifting injuries and other traumas on the job. They also face a uniquely threatening hazard: constant exposure to blood pathogens in the line of duty. A worker comp attorney in McHenry is aware that dirty surfaces, blood spills or insufficient hygiene may cause deadly consequences for paramedics.
Dangers faced by paramedics
Teams of paramedics are on the front line of emergency medical care in the field. They come into contact with severely ill or critically injured patients before doctors or nurses are able to assist. When medical professionals are working outside the hospital environment, the risk of infection is often higher. The intense time pressure of emergency situations can also lead to increased exposure risks. Many paramedics find themselves fighting blood-borne infections after patient contact.
Ambulances are a particularly high risk area
According to the American Journal of Infection Control, a recent study of emergency vehicles in the Chicago area showed that seven out of 10 ambulances tested positive for the presence of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This pathogen is notoriously resistant to modern antibiotics. Improper cleaning of ambulances can lead to the multiplication of S. aureus and an elevated risk of antibiotic resistant infections. These infections can occur among medical personnel as well as patients.
Improper cleaning and maintenance of care items
When patient care items are not maintained and cleaned properly, they can contribute to the spread of infection among paramedics. Some of the most common culprits include the following:
- Blood pressure cuffs
- Backboards and stretchers
- Monitors attached to patients
Ambulance cleaning must include thorough sanitizing of all equipment in the vehicle, as every worker comp attorney in McHenry knows.
Recommended procedures for safety
Soap and water is not enough for cleaning the highly sensitive items used by paramedics. Proper cleaning procedures include the use of substances such as bleach, alcohols, ammonium compounds and hydrogen peroxide. Special care must be taken in the event of blood spills or other body fluid spills. Paramedics and EMS providers can protect themselves further from the danger of infection by receiving immunizations against common blood-borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B.
Paramedics should be aware of the risks they face while saving lives. If you have been exposed to blood pathogens on the job, it might be helpful for you to consider calling a worker comp attorney in McHenry.