Legislators and government agencies are investigating better protection for health workers amid outcry over pandemic safety concerns that have persisted for a year.
During a House Subcommittee on Education and Labor hearing Thursday on strategies to protect workers from COVID-19 infections, a National Nurses United registered nurse called for stronger federal protection for health care workers by first stopping aerosol transmission of COVID-19 recognized and the occupational health and safety regulations had The health administration issues a temporary emergency standard.
“If these recommendations had been implemented a year ago, my colleague Celia would be alive today along with thousands of other health care workers,” said Pascaline Muhindura, an intensive care nurse at HCA’s Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, the said Legislator.
From Friday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had counted More than 422,000 cases of COVID-19 among US healthcare workers and 1,397 deaths. However, this is almost certainly an undercount as this occupational information was only available in fractions of the data.
However, there is still some uncertainty about how at risk health care workers are of being exposed to COVID-19 in their workplace. A recent JAMA Network Open study found that most health care workers who tested positive got the virus spread by the community.
OSHA has so far refused to exercise its authority to implement emergency standards, an option that is available to it in certain circumstances. During the pandemic, hospitals and health systems operated by guidelines rather than standards.
On January 21, President Joe Biden gave one supreme command Ask the agency to review a temporary emergency standard, including with respect to wearing masks if necessary, and provide one if necessary ETS until Monday. It also directs OSHA to launch a national program that will focus on enforcing violations and putting the greatest number of workers at serious risk.
The American Hospital Association, in a letter to the committee, said such a move would create a rigid new standard that “has real potential to add a new layer of conflicting and impractical regulatory burdens to hospitals and healthcare systems at just the wrong time.”
“Adopting these new standards could force hospitals and their staff to make an almost impossible decision – either not complying with the standards to treat all patients in need or complying with the standards and discontinuing treatment for patients when receiving OSHA Required equipment is exhausted, “AHA said.
But virus testing, personal protective equipment, safe personnel and violence in the workplace remain largely unchecked According to an NNU survey of 9,200 registered nurses, including both union members and non-union members, conducted in February for working nurses.
More than 80% of nurses said they are forced to reuse single-use PPE, which is almost unchanged from the November NNU survey. About half of those surveyed said that all patients in their hospital will be screened for COVID-19. While more nurses have been tested since the November survey, “it falls short of the regular, on-demand testing that nurses should be able to access,” NNU said.
The survey also found that 22% of nurses reported experiencing increased levels of violence in the workplace, which they attribute to reduced staffing levels, changes in patient populations and visitor restrictions.
“The violence has worsened over the past year,” said Muhindura at the hearing. “You are seeing an increase in anxiety and restlessness in patients with COVID related to the strict isolation.”
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., On February 22, reintroduced the Workplace Violence Prevention Act for Healthcare and Social Services Workers, instructing OSHA to create a national standard that health care employers would use and committed to the development and implementation of a law in the social service Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan.
Courtney mentioned February 11th Shooting at the Allina Health Clinic In Buffalo, Minnesota, one employee died and four others were injured.
Hospital workers “didn’t have any kind of early warning systems or measures that OSHA has developed as guidelines for volunteers for many, many years,” Courtney said.
“But even here, because we do not have a national standard, we are simply not implemented,” he said.
Muhindura testified that her hospital has emergency panic buttons, but “not everyone in the country has this protection.”