Healthcare workers (HCWs) are among the most significant people in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic war. However, because they are naturally exposed to patients at different levels of infectivity, the cost involved is high. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that HCWs make up more than one-tenth of all COVID-19 cases reported. Here, we are going to get insights on how the situation is in India for healthcare workers.
HCW Risk Alterations
In comparison to the early days of the crisis, PPE is more readily available now. The researchers wanted to find out the effect of this difference on the infection rate among healthcare workers. They sought to equate the risk posed by occupational exposure, especially, with that posed by group transmission, to minimize the risk to these critical employees.
Given below is the institutional mechanism for preventing and responding to Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) among HCWs:
The Hospital Infection Control Committee (HICC) will be activated by the hospitals. The HICC is responsible for enforcing the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) programs in the health facility and coordinating monthly IPC training for HCWs.
A hospital is recognized by a Nodal Officer (Infection Control Officer) to treat all cases associated with Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). The following aspects must be met to prevent the spread of infection among healthcare workers.
- Health care staff in various hospital settings shall use PEPs relevant to their risk profile as set out in the guidelines provided by this Ministry
- All health care staff must have completed Infection Prevention and Management training and are aware of common symptoms, need for self-health monitoring, and need to report those symptoms promptly.
- Arrangements for the routine (thermal) screening of all hospital personnel have been made.
- Chemoprophylaxis is given to all healthcare staff who treat COVID-19 cases under medical supervision.
- Provisions for timely notification of the hospital staff’s violation of PPE and follow-up actions have been made.
Here are the actions to be taken by healthcare workers:
Ensure that all protective measures are always taken, such as regular washing of hands/ using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and other etiquettes like using tissue/ handkerchief while coughing or sneezing, etc.
- He/ she should use PPE while on duty without fail.
- To ensure that there is no breach of infection prevention management procedures, a buddy system needs to be observed.
- The department’s nodal officer/ HoD is to be notified immediately of any breach in PPE or other means of exposure.
- HCWs must adopt social distancing and masking to avoid transmission to/ acquiring infection from other HCWs that might be positive after leaving the patient care units (wards/ OPDs/ ICUs) in the duty rooms/hostels/canteen of the doctor or outside the HCF.
- Pregnant/lactating mothers and immuno-compromised healthcare staff must warn the hospital authorities of their medical condition so that they can only be posted in non-COVID regions.
Given below are some of the high-risk exposure cases for HCWs:
- HCW or any other person who provides treatment to a COVID-19 case or laboratory worker who treats respiratory specimens from COVID-19 cases without a prescribed PPE or with potential PPE violation.
- Performed procedures for the generation of aerosols without sufficient PPE.
- Without mask / face-shield / goggles HCWs:
- Touch the COVID-19 patient face-to-face within 1 meter for more than 15 minutes
- Getting exposed to body fluids
Those who test negative, according to their clinical diagnosis, will be handled in the non-COVID field. Medical diagnosis and medical certification by the treating doctor would be the basis of their resuming work.