meraMD Admin's Blog

Precautions for health care workers against swine flu

In light of new cases of swine influenza, worldwide health agencies are urging health care workers who might come in contact with suspect cases to take full infection control procedures.

  1. Prevention of transmission of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) between patients and Health Care Wokers (HCWs) requires an approach consistent with the PROTECT phase, including:
    • raised awareness among staff, patients and visitors in health care settings about prevention, early detection and exclusion policies, through measures such as education and prominent signage
    • good infection control practices, including use of appropriate personal protective equipment and hand hygiene
    • early identification and isolation of potentially infectious patients
    • early identification and exclusion of potentially infectious staff and visitors from patient contact
    • potential reassignment of vulnerable staff away from areas where contact with influenza patients is most likely
    • in limited high risk settings, contact tracing of vulnerable patients and staff who were exposed to infectious cases, and provision of early treatment, or rarely, post exposure prophylaxis
  2. HCWs managing patients with ILI symptoms must ensure that the patient is wearing a surgical mask when not in isolation
  3. HCWs should routinely wear a surgical mask, protective eyewear and disposable gloves if they are undertaking an examination of an individual with an ILI that may lead to coughing (e.g. collecting nose and/or throat swabs), or where the HCW is within a metre of the patient and the patient is not able to use a surgical mask appropriately
  4. HCWs who are at increased risk of complications from H1N1 Influenza 09 and who are likely to be in direct contact with patients whom have ILI which may be H1N1 influenza 09 should be considered for redeployment to lower risk activities or environments. Where this is not practical, these HCW must ensure that they use appropriate PPE when examining and managing patients with ILI.
  5. If redeployment is not possible, managers must ensure that health care workers who are potentially at increased risk of complications from H1N1 Influenza 09 should not participate in procedures which may generate small particles or aerosols of respiratory secretions in patients with confirmed or suspected H1N1 influenza 09, and should not be in the room when such procedures are undertaken. HCWs must be advised of their responsibility to identify themselves if they believe they are in an 'increased risk' group and take appropriate action to protect themselves and others. 

Source: NSW Health

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