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Protecting healthcare workers in an acute care environment during epidemics: lessons learned from the SARS outbreak

Author(s): Denise L. Cohen | John Casken

Journal: International Journal of Caring Sciences
ISSN 1791-5201

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: SARS lessons | infectious disease control | acute care and infectious disease control | acute care and SARS

During the 2002-2003 the SARS outbreak resulted in 8,450 illnesses and 812 deaths. Out of these documented cases 1706 were among healthcare workers (HCWs)The purpose of this paper is to focus on and examine the details of infection control (IC) measures and which of these measures appear to be the most effective in stopping disease spread. Historically, HCWs have had poor compliance with the use of IC measures prior to the SARS outbreak. A number of lessons were learned from the SARS epidemic that should be incorporated into healthcare institutions policies and procedures. They include the following: an emphasis on the correct and immediate use of IC measures; an increased focus on HCWs recognizing early perceived threats; healthcare institutions should mandate routine in-house education with periodic updates on IC measures; administrators need to acknowledge and encourage role models among staff; engineeringcontrols should be put in place to protect staff from pathogens; and finally, there should be clear and constant communication between administration and staff.
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