Many health care workers in Georgia may be using improper on-the-job infection control protocols, according to a new study. As a result, workers, patients and workplace environments could become contaminated.
For the study, which was published on the JAMA Internal Medicine website in June, researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Utah conducted 325 health care worker observation sessions over a period of nine months. During that time, they witnessed 283 infection control violations that could have caused self-contamination or the transmission of infectious agents. For example, they observed 102 standard interaction protocol violations, including the failure to use personal protective equipment like gloves, masks and gowns. They also noted 144 process or procedure violations, including touching ID badges with gloved hands to access in-room computers, handling medications or supplies with gloved hands or removing gowns in the wrong sequence. In addition, 37 inadvertent responsive behaviors were observed during the study. These included workers using a gloved hand to use a personal device or touch their face.
According to the authors of the study, the circumstances contributing to the violations varied widely. This means that hospitals need to employ multiple strategies to address the issue. They suggested rethinking the types of technology that are introduced into health care facilities and reconsidering the areas in which personal protective equipment should be required. The authors also said that changing clothing designs, room configurations and computer access could help improve workplace safety.
Health care workers who suffer job-related illnesses and injuries are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Many workers find it helpful to seek the guidance of an attorney before they file their claim.