There’s a simple tool that can help keep healthcare workers from contracting or spreading infection. It’s the respirator. Most of us have seen or used one of these physical barriers to keep airborne infections like H1N1, tuberculosis, or SARS at bay. But did you know that respirators are effective only when used properly? Even the simple donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) process can, if performed incorrectly, expose healthcare workers to disease-causing agents. An insufficient seal or improper fit can allow pathogens to sneak through. Finally, some workers don’t have access to the appropriate kind of respirator, and some even have to reuse the ones they do have.
Success in occupational health service delivery largely depends on a healthcare organization’s ability to meet the needs of all stakeholders. In hospitals and health systems, occupational health (e.g., workers’ compensation injury treatment and management, screening exams, medical surveillance, wellness/health promotion, outpatient rehabilitation) is a strategic business initiative that spans the care continuum. It provides a dynamic portal of access to healthcare services for employers, employees and their dependents.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been the worst since it first appeared more than 30 years ago. As of July 31, 2014, the current outbreak of Ebola has infected more than 1,300 people and has killed 729 people across Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. It is highly contagious and the outbreak is not yet contained. In its early stages, the virus mimics the common cold, making it difficult to diagnose. But within a few days, the virus progresses quickly and serious complications, even death, can arise.
When a worker applies for physically demanding job, it is important to match the physical abilities of that worker to the physical demands of the job. This is an essential step in worker safety and in reducing on-the-job injuries. The physical demands of the position often go unaddressed in the pre-employment process, which can result in a mismatch of what the employee can do and the physical demands the job. This mismatch often leads to work related injuries, and if the physical capabilities of the applicant are in line with the physical demands of the job initially, fewer injuries will occur.
Throughout a plethora of industries, nanotechnology is becoming more prevalent and being utilized more often. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale to produce new structures, materials and devices. Nanotechnology embarks on understanding matter at the nanoscale; dimensions approximately between 1 and 100 nanometers. Specifically, nanotechnology shows progression in sectors such as medicine, consumer products, energy, materials, and manufacturing.
HealthLeaders recently organized a Roundtable on a topic of ever-growing importance and concern – Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs). I participated in the HAI discussion alongside four other healthcare industry leaders. The issue directly affects patient care, dynamics, and bottom line performance. To create a thriving organization, as I have previously discussed, a connection between employee responsibility and the responsibility of the employer needs to be made. In the case of HAIs, we have boiled this idea down to three dynamics: culture, leadership, and organizational commitment. Though, it’s important to realize, the success and sustainability of the characteristics depends heavily on systems. Systems and supporting processes ensure an effective and efficient workplace when coupled with those high-level dimensions.
The other industry leaders who participated in the discussion included:
- Marilyn Dubree- Executive Chief Nursing Officer
- Gerald Hickson- Senior Vice President for Quality, Patient Safety & Risk Prevention
- William Maples- Senior Vice President & Chief Quality Officer
- Steve Seeley- Vice President, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Nursing Officer
Occupational health is an information-intensive business encompassing a broad spectrum of services. Consequently, provider-based occupational health programs typically cannot achieve their full potential without a dedicated information management solution designed to ensure connectivity, security, immediacy and accuracy in data collection, documentation, reporting, coding and billing.
Since 2012, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has infected more than 600 individuals and has resulted in over 190 deaths. To date, it has been reported in a total of 18 countries, and the numbers continue to grow. Within the past month, the disease has made it to the Netherlands and the United States of America.
An electronic medical record (EMR) system that is maintained separately from an enterprise-wide EMR is a key contributor to an occupational health program’s success.
Having invested in a global EMR system, hospitals and clinic networks understandably want to maximize the system’s capabilities. However, large-scale inpatient and ambulatory care EMR systems are not designed to manage the specific clinical, legal and financial aspects of occupational health as a business enterprise.
The term surveillance generally refers to “keeping a watchful eye over someone or something.” In the workplace, surveillance programs have been used to screen individuals for potential over-exposures (such as to lead) or disease development (such as asbestosis). In a more broad sense, programs can be used to observe the health of populations for the development of work-related problems such as hearing loss from noise exposure or allergic reactions from dusts or dander. The keys to success and effectiveness of these types of programs are to identify problems early and take appropriate corrective actions.