Health Workforce Safety

Information about risks to the health and well-being of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies to protect the health workforce.

(06/14/21) Doctors Risked Suicide, Miscarriage on Duty, Then COVID Arrived
The risks for providers, especially women, in providing health care have been well-known since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however this Bloomberg Law article highlights the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated risks to providers, as well as discussing the stigma around mental health issues in physicians and potential changes to law to address these issues.

(06/09/21) Biden Administration Will Limit Mandatory COVID Workplace Safety Rules to Health Care Settings
The United States Labor Department has recently made the decision to specifically limit mandatory emergency COVID-19 workplace safety rules to the health care sector. Both unions and businesses are concerned about this pivotal change as they have anticipated a ruling that would broadly apply to all workplaces.

(06/09/21) Listen: Healing the Healers: An Advocate and a Psychiatrist on Clinicians’ Mental Health and Burnout
This First Opinion Podcast from STAT News discusses the mental health challenges that health care workers face while practicing medicine. Corey Feist, a mental health advocate and Wendy Dean, a Psychiatrist, also uncover how the recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these mental health challenges among health care workers.

(06/07/21) Physician Wellness After COVID-19: Steps to Getting Back to Normalcy
This article reports the mental health problems among healthcare workers. As a survey on healthcare workers from Mental Health America shows, more than 75% of the respondents reported stress, anxiety, burnout, or felt overwhelmed. Such a rampant mental health problem among healthcare workers is associated with the challenges such as developing new lifestyles, having kids at home, fighting misinformation, as well as anxiety and excessive work burden that they have faced since the beginning of the pandemic.

(06/02/21) CEO Coalition Readies to Take Action to Support Hospital Staff
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges and exacerbated existing issues in maintaining workforce safety in hospital systems. In an attempt to address these challenges, CEOs from 10 prominent hospital systems in the United States have announced the CEO Coalition’s Declaration of Principles to promote safer working environments, including emphasis on emotional and psychological safety, health justice, and physical safety of employees.

(05/25/21) Congress Needs to Pass the Dr. Lorna Breen Act to Support US Health Care Workers
This opinion piece from STAT highlights the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act which was introduced by a bipartisan group led by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). The purpose of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is to prevent suicide and burnout among physicians as well as to improve the mental health of health care workers.

(05/24/21) Physicians Say COVID-19 Has Lowered Their Trust in Organizational Leadership and Healthcare at Large
This article introduces some evidence showing that physicians’ trust in the US healthcare system has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. This tendency is associated with health insurance companies and government health agencies, while their trust in other health workers has increased.

(05/24/21) COVID-19 Infection Rate Among Dentists Remains Lower Than Other Health Professionals
A new study released by the American Dental Association finds that the rate of COVID-19 infection among dentists is lower than that of other health care professionals, and has consistently been lower throughout the pandemic. High rates of pre-appointment screening and enhanced safety procedures are credited with protecting dentists.

(05/24/21) Give Clinicians Time to Recover From the Pandemic
This article, published in the Personnel Policies section of the Harvard Business Review, advocates for an automatic policy to give clinicians working through the COVID-19 pandemic an opportunity to experience a recovery period, which could include the likes of temporary leaves of absence, relaxing workflow, reducing hours, role changes, or other changes meant to give clinicians a chance to heal some trauma.

(05/21/21) These Asian American Health Care Workers Are Fighting 2 Viruses: COVID and Hate
This article from CNN asks Asian American health care workers to discuss their experiences working through both the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the rise in targeted harassment and violence many Asian Americans are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.

(05/21/21) Interim Estimates of Vaccine Effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines Among Health Care Personnel — 33 U.S. Sites, January–March 2021
Newly published data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds the currently authorized mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 are highly effective in preventing symptomatic illness among health care providers. The study observed health care workers at 33 sites in 25 states.

(05/06/21) Nurse Burnout Remains a Serious Problem, Putting Patients in Danger, Experts Say
This NBC News article describes cases of nurse practitioners who recently experienced burnout or left their jobs with the frustration of lacking protective equipment from the medical center and challenging shift work during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the studies cited, the number of nurses searching for new jobs has risen four-fold during the pandemic, and about a quarter of health care workers showed signs of PTSD.

(05/04/21) Health System CEOs Form Coalition to Set New Safety Standards for U.S. Health Care Workers
The CEO Coalition has been created in an effort to set new safety standards for the nation’s health care workers. The formation of this group comes as the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the need to address systemic challenges faced by health care workers. The participants of the CEO Coalition include Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and CEO of UCLA Hospital System, and nine other U.S. health system leaders. The CEO Coalition has since released a Declaration of Principles that innovatively redefined health workforce safety standards and included additional factors such as emotional and psychological well-being, health justice, and physical safety.

(05/04/21) Workforce Management Key to Nurse Mental Health, Patient Safety
A new study published in the American Journal of Critical Care has found that critical care nurses in poor physical and mental health have significantly more medical errors compared to healthier nurses. While this study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the strain of the pandemic has led to concerns over medical errors throughout the pandemic from these critical care nurses and other health care providers.

(05/04/21) Health Care Workers Experience Increased Insomnia During the Pandemic
This article from Pharmacy Times discusses a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which found significant increases in insomnia disorder among health care workers following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(05/04/21) Doctors With Long COVID-19 Share Their Struggles to Heal
This article from the Association of American Medical Colleges offers some examples of the impact of COVID-19 in the long-term on some health care providers. Long lasting COVID-19 symptoms on those who have otherwise recovered continue to be a concern for front-line health care workers.

(05/03/21) Health Care Workers Turn to Military Techniques to Deal With Trauma
This story from WBUR offers the perspective of Dr. Joshua Morganstein, the assistant director at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress in Maryland, a military veteran and researcher of trauma. Dr. Morganstein has advocated for utilizing some of the same techniques used to help active duty military personnel deal with trauma to health care workers working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

(04/29/21) COVID-19 Only Exacerbated a Longer Pattern of Health-care Worker Stress
This perspective piece from The Washington Post offers a view on the history of stress for health care workers, primarily physicians in hospital settings, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. While long hours and stress of constant emergencies have long been difficult issues in the field, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues.

(04/28/21) NMSU Study: COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Health Care Workers Remains a Concern
This article covers a new study from New Mexico State University on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among health care workers throughout the world. The summarizing study found that more than one-fifth of health care workers involved in studies from more than a dozen countries were hesitant to be vaccinated. Male workers, older workers, and workers with doctoral or postgraduate education were most likely to accept vaccination.

(04/23/21) FDA Says Health Care Workers Should Stop Reusing N95 Masks
Health professionals were previously directed to properly clean, recycle, and reuse N95 masks in efforts to combat the shortage of personal protective equipment early in the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration has since issued a statement that directs health care facilities and health care workers to transition back to the single use of N95 masks as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes there is now an adequate supply of N95 masks in the country. The recommendation is contingent on the assumption that facilities have access to and can confirm that they have a sufficient supply of N95 masks.

(04/22/21) Burned Out by the Pandemic, 3 in 10 Health-care Workers Consider Leaving the Profession
An article from The Washington Post covering issues with experienced health care providers leaving the profession as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related burnout and trauma. Recent surveys have found many providers have considered retiring from medical practice in the past 12 months, with dissatisfaction with the response to the pandemic being a major factor.

(04/14/21) The Staggering Toll of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers
According to a report by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News, 3600 American health care workers have died in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigation called Lost on the Frontline, which started in April 2020, is ending this month.

(04/13/21) Sources of Healthcare Workers’ COVID-19 Infections and Related Safety Guidelines
This cross-sectional prospective research study assessed the effectiveness of workplace safety guidelines among health care workers. The study analyzed work-related exposure to COVID-19 and the source of infection along with the use of personal protective equipment. The study concluded that there was a high infection rate among health care workers even while following safety guidelines.

(04/08/21) Twelve Months of Trauma: More Than 3,600 US Health Workers Died in COVID’s First Year
The Lost on the Frontline project from Kaiser Health News and The Guardian has found more than 3,600 health care workers died during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigation found that two-thirds of health care providers who died from COVID-19 were people of color, and often were lower-paid workers in roles such as support staff or nursing home workers.

(04/05/21) COVID-19 One Year Later: The Pandemic’s Impact on Physician Mental Health
Medical Economics interviews a doctor who is an expert on physician mental health. He states that the pandemic has not only had a huge effect on patients, but also on physician mental health.

(03/29/21) Six Principles to Ensure Clinician Well-being: Lessons From COVID-19’s Darkest Days for a New Way of Working
This Health Affairs article examines 6 principles to ensure clinician well-being post the COVID-19 pandemic including: agility and responsiveness, a supportive culture, transparent communication, connection to meaningful work, supportive systems of working, and promotion of equity.

(03/22/21) Time to Prioritize the Mental Health of Our Frontline Health Care Heroes
Frontline health care workers have endured a significant amount of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health officials and lawmakers are prioritizing the mental health of health care professionals in a new bill that provides strategies for reducing the stigma of seeking mental health care and reducing burnout. The bill also proposes to provide support for employers to effectively address the mental health needs of frontline workers.

(03/18/21) Executives Rate Provider Burnout As a Disrupting Force in Healthcare
A recent survey has found health care executives rating burnout for providers as one of the most potentially disrupting forces for hospitals and health systems. Burnout, disengagement, and shortages related to these issues were found to be significant concerns beyond loss of revenue for the health sector.

(03/15/21) Addiction and Behavioral Health Care Workers Should Have Access to COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines
This opinion piece from STAT News describes the need for addiction and behavioral health care workers to gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the demand for mental health services, these essential health care workers have struggled to obtain PPE and have been excluded from the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination.

(03/11/21) Healthcare Workers More Likely to get COVID-19 Antibodies in Community Than on Job, Study Suggests
This article from Becker’s Hospital Review highlights a study published on the JAMA Network Open that assessed seropositivity among health care workers. The study suggests that health care workers were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 antibodies due to community exposure rather than exposure in the workplace.

(03/11/21) Prevalence of Depression, Anxiety and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
A new study published in PLOS One finds that the long hours and stress from the pandemic have led to significant levels of depression and anxiety relating to COVID-19. This study was global in its reach and analyzed 65 studies from across the world for trends in health care worker mental health.

(03/10/21) Risk Factors Associated With SARS-CoV-2 Seropositivity Among US Health Care Personnel
This study published in JAMA identifies key risk factors associated with COVID-19 infection resulting in illness for health care providers in the United States. The study found that community exposure was associated with increased risk of infection, however workplace factors such as role, environment, and patient contact were not associated with increased risk of infection, meaning workplace protocols may be proving effective at minimizing risk of exposure to workers.

(03/03/21) Los Angeles County Finds Fewer Cases Among Health Care Workers as More Get Vaccinated
Just months from the first vaccinations, new infections of COVID-19 among health care workers have fallen dramatically in Los Angeles county. Long-term care facilities previously made up a quarter of all cases and have dropped substantially, a trend noticed nationwide among health care workers.

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