Safety

Infectious disease groups appeal to Obama to pull back on N95 enforcement

Hospital Safety Insider, November 11, 2009

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Three infectious disease professional associations have written to President Obama, asking him to stop OSHA from enforcing N95 respirator provisions on hospitals providing H1N1 swine flu care.
 
In a letter sent November 5, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology asked Obama to:
  • Modify Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to instead promote the use of surgical masks for routine H1N1 patient care
  • Issue an immediate moratorium on OSHA’s enforcement of N95 provisions for healthcare facilities treating H1N1 patients
There has considerable back-and-forth debate among infection control professionals, scientists, and public health officials about whether N95s are any better than surgical masks for protecting healthcare workers during routine contact with H1N1 patients.
 
The CDC recently re-affirmed its recommendation that healthcare workers wear N95s when within 6 ft. of patients with suspected or confirmed H1H1. OSHA subsequently issued a statement saying that facilities treating H1N1 patients must follow the CDC’s recommendations and make good faith efforts to obtain and use N95s in the face of limited supplies.



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