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Protecting Healthcare Workers from H1N1 While They Work

39170697 Just before the Labor Day weekend, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued recommendations for how health care workers can protect themselves from H1N1 in the work place.  Commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the report has fewer evidence-based recommendations for healthcare workers than it has suggestions for needed research.

For healthcare workers who encounter patients with unidentified febrile respiratory illness or in close contact with those known or suspected to have H1N1, the IOM report suggests they wear "fit-tested" N95 respirators or others equally or more effective.  This recommendation builds on CDC and World Health Organization guidelines, which also point to the importance of vigilant hand hygiene practices in all situations involving H1N1, and to isolation precautions (gloves, gowns, eye protection, masks).

But because the evidence is very limited for what protections to use when, the IOM recommends future research on influenza transmission and respiratory protection, particularly in the clinical setting.

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