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To examine the incidence of exposure to potentially infectious bodily fluids by athletic trainers in the high school setting in the performance of their daily responsibilities. We also looked at the actions of officials in dealing with athletes with bleeding injuries.
Athletic trainer contact with athletes and incidents of exposure to potentially infectious bodily fluids were recorded at 18 high schools in northern New Jersey during the fall 1994 athletic season. The number of times officials removed an athlete from the game or required a change of uniform, or both, was also counted. The data were analyzed with descriptive statistics.
Eighteen athletic trainers and 3537 student-athletes at 18 high schools in northern New Jersey.
Number of contacts with athletes; number of contacts with potentially infectious bodily fluids; age of athlete; sport of athlete; whether the contact was in a practice or game; if in a game, whether the athlete was removed from the game by the official; and whether or not the athlete was required to clean or change the uniform.
Of the athletic trainer contacts with athletes, 4.10% involved potentially infectious bodily fluids. The incidence of exposure to potentially infectious fluids was 12.9% of the athlete contacts. Athletes in game situations were required to change or clean a uniform in 23.7% of the bleeding incidents, and officials removed an athlete from a contest in 1.7% of the game-related bleeding incidents.
Universal precautions and personal protective equipment should be used in the athletic setting. Further study into the application of rules by officials governing the participation of athletes with blood-stained uniforms is needed.