Review: COVID-19 and the risk to health care workers – a case report
This Annals of Internal Medicine case report discusses the risks and outcomes of health care workers caring for a patient with severe pneumonia prior to the patient’s COVID-19 diagnosis being known.
The patient was hospitalized for community-acquired pneumonia, required supplemental oxygen on admission, and later required intubation and mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit (ICU). He was not diagnosed with COVID-19 until he was extubated three days later. The hospital identified 41 health care workers as having exposure to aerosol-generating procedures for at least 10 minutes at a distance of less than two meters from the patients, and all of them were placed under home isolation for two weeks, with daily monitoring. None of the exposed health care workers developed symptoms, and all subsequent tests were negative. 85% of the exposed health care workers were exposed while wearing a surgical mask, and the remainder were wearing N95 masks. The case report suggests that surgical masks, hand hygiene, and other standard procedures protected these health care workers from being infected. The authors acknowledge the difficulty of making wide conclusions from a single case report and suggest that additional studies be performed to determine how to protect health care workers from becoming infected while they are providing care for patients with COVID-19.
About the Author: Seema Mohapatra
Seema Mohapatra is an Associate Professor of Law and Dean's Fellow
at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, She teaches Introduction to Health Care Law and Policy, Genetics and the Law, Torts, and Bioethics and the Law. Seema Mohapatra is an expert in the areas of health care law, public health law, bioethics, torts, and international health and family law. Her research interests include the intersection of biosciences and the law, assisted reproduction and surrogacy, international family and health law, health care disparities in the United States, and informed consent. Her work has been published in several journals, including the Wake Forest Law Review, Colorado Law Review, Brooklyn Law Review, and the Harvard Journal of Law & Policy. Professor Mohapatra currently teaches Torts, Introduction to Health Care Law, Bioethics, and Genetics and the Law. She has authored articles and book chapters on topics such as insurance coverage of infertility and assisted reproduction, genetics and health privacy, international surrogacy laws, and equity in healthcare coverage. Professor Mohapatra regularly presents her research nationally and internationally at legal and medical conferences and symposia. Prior to teaching, Professor Mohapatra practiced health law in Chicago at Sidley & Austin and Foley & Lardner. She earned a J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law and has a master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University. She earned a bachelor of arts in Natural Sciences (with a minor in Women's Studies) from Johns Hopkins University.