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Abstract

Introduction

Paramedics and other emergency health workers are exposed to infectious disease particularly when undertaking exposure-prone procedures as a component of their everyday practice. This study examined paramedic knowledge of infectious disease aetiology and transmission in the pre-hospital care environment. Methods

A mail survey of paramedics from an Australian ambulance service (n=2274) was conducted. Results

With a response rate of 55.3% (1258/2274), the study demonstrated that paramedic knowledge of infectious disease aetiology and modes of transmission was poor. Of the 25 infectious diseases included in the survey, only three aetiological agents were correctly identified by at least 80% of respondents. The most accurate responses for aetiology of individual infectious diseases were for HIV/AIDS (91.4%), influenza (87.4%), and hepatitis B (85.7%). Poorest results were observed for pertussis, infectious mononucleosis, leprosy, dengue fever, Japanese B encephalitis and vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE), all with less than half the sample providing a correct response. Modes of transmission of significant infectious diseases were also assessed. Most accurate responses were found for HIV/AIDS (85.8%), salmonella (81.9%) and influenza (80.1%). Poorest results were observed for infectious mononucleosis, diphtheria, shigella, Japanese B encephalitis, vancomycin resistant enterococcus, meningococcal meningitis, rubella and infectious mononucleosis, with less than a third of the sample providing a correct response. Conclusions

Results suggest that knowledge of aetiology and transmission of infectious disease is generally poor amongst paramedics. A comprehensive in-service education infection control programs for paramedics with emphasis on infectious disease aetiology and transmission is recommended.

Author Biography

Ramon Shaban RN, IPN, EMT-P, BSc(Med), BN, ADipAppSc(Amb), GCertInfCon, PGDipPH&TM, MEd (Research), MCommHealthPract(Hons), MRCNA, MACTM, PhD Candidate

Ramon is a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University. An ambulance paramedic, registered nurse, and medical scientist, Ramon has an extensive professional career spanning more than a decade in clinical practice, education and management in health care. Concurrently with ongoing clinical practice, Ramon has an emerging publication and research track record in a variety of areas related to emergency primary health care. Of particular interest to Ramon is clinical judgment and decision-making of health care workers in this setting. He is a Clinical Research Leader with the National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) Emergency Care Community of Practice, and has published in the area of infection control, infectious diseases, mental illness, clinical judgment and decision-making, and quality and safety in health care. Ramon regularly reviews for a number of national and international journals, and is in the final stages of completing his PhD that examines paramedic clinical judgment and decision-making of mental illness in the emergency care setting.

Contact Details: Ramon Shaban School of Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre for Practice Innovation Griffith University University Drive, Meadowbrook. QLD. 4131. Ph: +61 (07) 3382 1271 Fax: + 61 (07) 3382 1277 Email: r.shaban@griffith.edu.au

JEPHC PUBLICATIONS Student Contributions Paramedic clinical judgment of mental illness: Representations of official accounts (Paper 4 of a Four part series) Accounting for assessments of mental illness in paramedic practice: A new theoretical framework (Paper 3 of a Four part series)

Theories of clinical judgment and decision-making: A review of the theoretical literature (Paper 2 of a Four part series) Mental health and mental illness in paramedic practice: A warrant for research and inquiry into accounts of paramedic clinical judgment and decision-making (Paper 1 of a Four part series)

Clinical Practice Paramedic knowledge of infectious disease aetiology and transmission in an Australian Emergency Medical System

Original Reseach Paramedics' clinical judgment and mental health assessments in emergency contexts: Research, practice, and tools of the trade Uncertainty, Error and Risk in Human Clinical Judgment: Introductory Theoretical Frameworks in Paramedic Practice

Book Reviews Pathophysiology Paramedic

The Australian Immunisation Handbook 2003

Infection Control in the Community Nursing Research: Methods, Critical Appraisal and Utilization Paramedic field care: A complaint-based approach

Communicable Diseases and Infection Control for EMS

Writers' Workshop A Guide to Writing Book Reviews

Professor Debra Creedy RPN PhD Dean Faculty of Nursing and Health Griffith University PMB 50 Gold Coast Mail Centre QLD 9726 AUSTRALIA

All Correspondence to: Ramon Shaban

Professor Michele J. Clark BA BOccThy PhD Head of Rehabilitation Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy James Cook University Townsville Queensland 4811 AUSTRALIA

All Correspondence to: Ramon Shaban

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