Review: Protecting health care workers against COVID-19—and being prepared for future pandemics
This JAMA Health Forum outlines the need to protect health care workers against COVID-19 and outlines advice for future pandemic response.
On March 5, the union National Nurses United (NNU) reported that in a national survey of more than 6500 nurses, only 30% said that their health care organization had sufficient inventory of PPE for responding to a surge event and 44% of the nurses said their employer had provided them with the necessary information about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and how to respond.
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has standards for PPE and the CDC calls for hospitals to have respiratory protection programs, these standards are seldom enforced unless a state integrates them into health care facility inspections.
For future pandemics, the authors suggest that federal, state, and local governments must reinvest in a robust public health system and rely on that system for accurate and timely information and guidance to the health care sector and to society should be evidence-based, consistent, and aligned with local decision-making. The federal government should ensure that the nation’s health care sector has an adequate supply of PPE, including more reusable respirators, develop onshore capacity for rapid PPE production during surges, and incentivize public-private partnerships to develop novel PPE that is cost-effective, safe, and comfortable.
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.