Each patient contact you have poses a risk for disease transmission. The risk of disease transmission is often underestimated or neglected because the time lapse between exposure to an infectious agent and development of disease can be considerable. For example, the detection of HIV can take up to several months after exposure, and symptoms can be delayed for years. Consequently, Standard Precautions and other infection control measures are sometimes neglected in the field. However, there is no doubt that the risk of contracting a serious occupationally-acquired illness is real, as there has been an estimated 12 EMTs/paramedics who have possibly acquired HIV on the job.1 Accordingly, the purpose of this course was to provide you with information on how to protect yourself and others from the spread of infectious diseases through the rapid recognition and management of potentially infectious patients, as well as by promoting safe workplace practices.
For further reading on infectious diseases, take the remaining courses in the Medic-CE Infectious Diseases series, which focus on microbiology and immunology (Infectious Diseases I) and specific infectious diseases (Infectious Diseases III and IV).