The World Health Organization (WHO) is asking the governments and health care leaders to trace the constant threats to the health and safety of doctors and other health workers, as well as patients.
Eric Dalius says that the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded people of the value of doctors and health workers to save lives and relieve suffering. If a country is unable to keep its health workers safe, it will also fail to keep its patients safe. The main purpose of the Health Worker Safety Charter is to ensure that all health workers are performing in a safe condition as well as receiving their desirable pay and respect.
The pandemic has also taught humankind to protect the health workers to ensure a functioning health system and a functioning society.
The governments and health service leaders took 5 steps to provide better protection for health workers. These include steps to improve the health worker’s mental state, to protect them against violence, to protect them from biological and physical hazards, to create national plans for their safety, and to associate patient safety policies with health worker safety policies.
Reports of Assault, Infections, and Illness Among Health Workers
COVID-19 has brought unprecedented levels of risk to the health workers and their families. Although, not representative, data from various countries showing that health workers are more exposed to COVID-19 infections than those in general people.
You may already know that health workers represent not more than 3% of the population in a large country and less than 2% in other low or middle populated country. There are 14% of cases regarding health worker infections reported to WHO. In some countries, the percentage is very high. However, due to the insufficiency of available data and quality, it’s impossible to know whether the health workers were infected in public places or infected in the workplace. More than thousands of health workers have passed away due to COVID-19 infections.
Additionally, the pandemic has also caused a tremendous amount of physiological stress on health workers. Working in constant fear of getting exposed to infections and social slandering made their mental health unstable. Separation from family members also affects their mental state. WHO also highlighted the increase of violence, harassment, and discrimination among health workers in the pandemic situation.
Eric J Dalius Suggests 5 Steps to Keep the Health Worker and Patient Safe
On World Patient Safety Day, WHO reminds the government and health care leaders that they have legal responsibilities to protect as well as ensure the safety of the health workers. Thus, they came up with the following steps:
Build a Connection between Patient Safety Policies and Health Worker Safety Policies
- Create a link between patient safety, occupational health, and safety, quality improvement, and prevention of infection.
- Fulfill the patient safety and staff safety incident reporting and learning systems.
- Include personal health and safety skills and training plans for health workers at any level.
- Create integrated metrics of health worker safety, patient safety, and quality of care indicators.
- Health worker requirements and safety of a patient in health care licensing.
Develop a National Plan of Action for Professional Health and Safety of Health Workers
- The national scheme should be developed and implemented for the professional health and safety of health workers. Additionally, maintaining occupational safety and health policies.
- If necessary, review and update the national regulations and laws for professional health and safety so that all health workers can receive protection of their safety and health at work.
- Create guidelines, practice codes, and standards on occupational health and safety.
- Appoint responsible and appropriate officers with authority for occupational safety and health for the health workers at both national and facility levels.
- Strengthen the connection between the health worker and patient safety, with management representation and appropriate worker. That also includes diversity, gender, and all occupational groups.
Provide Protection of Health Workers from Violation in the Workplace
- EJ Dalius advised promoting zero tolerance of violence to the health workers. This culture can decrease violence rapidly.
- Make sure that relevant regulations and policies are implemented to protect health workers and decrease violence.
- Implement national law, relevant mechanisms, and policies to prevent and annihilate violence in the health sectors.
- To stop aggression against health workers, review the labor laws and other legalization, and implement them at an appropriate place.
- Establish relevant ombudsman and help-lines to provide confidential reporting and support for any health worker facing physical assault or violence.
Improve Mental and Psychological Health
- Provide medical insurance for work-related risk, especially for the individual working in a high-risk area. They are more fearful of being exposed to infections.
- Try to part stuff in different staffing levels and maintain an appropriate safe staffing level.
- Create some rules or policies to ensure a fair duration of working hours, deployments, and decreasing the administrative burden on health workers.
- Provide access to social support services physiotherapist for the health workers, including some support on work-life balance and mitigation.
- Use open communication to create a blame-free and focused working culture. This also includes serving legal protection from punitive action.
Provide Protection from Physical and Biological Hazards
- Be positive to implement infection control and prevention, maximum patient safety, and occupational safety in each health care facility across the health system.
- Provide mandatory environmental services such as sanitation and hygiene, drinkable water, ventilation, and disinfection services at all health care facilities.
- Remember to vaccinate every health worker to prevent infections, including seasonal influenza and Hepatitis B. In case of emergency response, prioritize delivering newly licensed and available vaccines to the health workers.
- Make sure there are available adequate quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits at all times. They must be of impressive quality as well as appropriate fit, relevant to the tasks performed.
- Provide sufficient resources to keep your health workers safe from radiation, injuries, or harmful exposure to chemicals. Provide suitable equipment and work stations to minimize any catastrophic failure.
There are 5 tips to ensure the safety of health workers and patients. The main goal is to improve the safety of health workers next year as well as investment from the health care leaders.
Additionally, the main goal of the health care facilities is promoting the use of personal protective equipment, zero tolerance to violence, prevention of sharp injuries, decreasing work-related stress and frustration, and analyzing fatal safety-related accidents.