Healthcare worker safety, priority for patient safety | Sunday Observer

Healthcare worker safety, priority for patient safety

11 October, 2020

In commemoration of World Patient Safety Day, the Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes (APHNH) has recognised that healthcare worker protection is integral to ensuring patient safety during the pandemic.

The theme for World Patient Safety Day was ‘Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety’. Healthcare institutions internationally focused on the interlinkage between healthcare worker safety and patient safety and discussed initiatives used to protect frontline workers the world over.

“I would like to see greater investment in the well-being of medical staff. The role they play in this economy and to society has been largely overlooked, said President, APHNH, Dr. Lakith Peiris.

During the ongoing pandemic, health workers face the most significant threat through increased exposure. Globally, it is reported that 55 per cent of Covid-19 related healthcare worker deaths were of doctors and physicians, particularly primary care physicians (American Board of Family Medicine, 2020). In recognising that front-line health workers faced the greatest risk, Dr. Peiris affirmed that the association and its members made it a priority to follow Covid-19 precautions and operational guidelines.

The Ministry of Health directives laid out stringent regulations that APHNH member hospitals and nursing homes abided by. Hospitals also made it a priority to triage and isolate patients and visitors. APHNH member hospitals and nursing homes proactively added precautionary measures as necessary. Notably, in most hospitals, daily internal sanitation audits are conducted, and batch rotation introduced to minimise the risk of exposure.

APHNH hospitals recognised that a concerted effort to keep health workers safe would also have to include medical process reengineering. To keep doctors and physicians safe, non-emergency surgeries were only performed if the patient had tested negative for Covid-19. Clinical practices such as emergency intubations were carried out in isolated areas, and advanced ultraviolet air sterilisation was introduced to ensure that nurses and doctors would not be in immediate danger. APHNH recognises that these additional precautionary measures practices helped minimise the exposure of their health workers to the Coronavirus.

“Our strict and thorough precautions were a testament to our commitment to protecting employees and patients, which, so far, we have done successfully. The pandemic, if nothing else, drove innovation in the health sector,” said Dr. Peiris.

“The best defence against any outbreak is a healthy medical workforce. We need to keep investing in health worker safety, and the lessons we learned will be useful if there is ever another crisis of this nature.

Keeping our healthcare workers safe is the least we can do after the enormous sacrifices they have made for our country,” he said.