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In response to a request from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), an ad hoc committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will conduct a study on personal protective equipment (PPE) and issue a letter report to the CDC director and assistant secretary for occupational safety and health by Sept. 1, 2009.
The committee will provide recommendations regarding the necessary PPE for healthcare workers in their workplace against the novel influenza A (nH1N1) virus. Issues to be addressed to the extent feasible given available evidence and within the timeline for this letter report include: the potential for exposure to the nH1N1 virus among healthcare workers, which groups of workers are at risk, which patient care activities pose a risk of exposure and what degree of risk, and what is known and what is unknown about transmissibility, severity and virulence of the current virus and how transmissibility might change.
The committee will base its recommendations on the available current state of scientific and empirical evidence about nH1N1 virus, as well its expert judgment. Economic and logistical considerations regarding PPE equipment will not be addressed in this letter report. In determining the appropriate PPE for the U.S. healthcare workforce, attention will be given to the current PPE guidance documents offered by the CDC and by the World Health Organization for novel H1N1 influenza and for seasonal influenza.
A workshop was held Aug. 12 to examine the emerging science and clinical experience base associated with nH1N1; to discuss criteria used to delineate infection control guidelines; to discuss criteria used to assess risk to the healthcare workforce; and to examine what is known about the effectiveness of medical masks, respirators, gowns, gloves and eye protection in preventing nH1N1 and seasonal influenza transmission.