Hospital Employee Health – May 1, 2020
May 1, 2020
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Spring of Fear: ED Staff Face Surging Coronavirus
Emergency physicians and other frontline clinicians are trying to hold the line against an accelerating coronavirus pandemic in the United States, even as they fear for their own safety and that of their families and colleagues. A shortage of personal protective equipment — particularly N95 respirators — ratcheted up the anxiety, as did the accumulating media reports of healthcare worker deaths, illness, and home quarantine.
CDC Guidelines for Reuse of N95 Respirators
With reuse of N95 respirators in effect at many hospitals, the CDC has issued recommendations that begin with the caveat “there is no way of determining the maximum possible number of safe reuses for an N95 respirator as a generic number to be applied in all cases.”
Crossing the Fine Line Between Fear and Courage
A truism that has been observed in various forms is the only time one can show courage is when one acts in the face of fear. This is what healthcare workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic are essentially doing, one expert says.
CDC Guidance for Use of Facemasks During Crisis
The CDC’s recommendation for optimizing the supply of facemasks include “contingency” and “crisis” capacity. These are steps hospitals can take if they are no longer at “conventional” capacity, when standard measures remain in effect. The CDC defines contingency capacity as practices that may be used temporarily during periods of expected facemask shortages. Crisis capacity may call for stopgap measures “that are not commensurate with U.S. standards of care."
CDC Defines ‘Low-Risk’ Occupational Exposures to Coronavirus
The CDC recently issued guidelines allowing healthcare personnel (HCP) to continue working if they incur only “low-risk” exposures to patients with COVID-19. With some reported cases of large numbers of HCP furloughed after exposures, the CDC is moving to preserve the workforce in situations where HCP are exposed to infected patients through minor breaks in protocol or personal protective equipment.
OSHA Allows ‘Enforcement Discretion’ During COVID-19
Responding to respirator shortages during the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a memorandum allowing “enforcement discretion” by compliance officers citing the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR § 1910.134).