Category Archives: Health & Safety

Hospitalizations and Deaths Caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, United States, 1999-2005

Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases (via Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

From press release:
Hospitalizations related to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections more than doubled, from 127,000 to nearly 280,000, between 1999 and 2005, according to a new study in the December issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. During that same period, hospitalizations of patients with general staph infections increased 62 percent across the country.

Staph, or Staphylococcus aureus, are a kind of bacteria that attack wounds and cause life-threatening infections, such as blood poisoning and pneumonia. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are “superbugs” that have evolved resistance to most commonly used antibiotics, so they are more difficult and expensive to treat.

The study, which is the first to examine the recent magnitude and trends related to staph and MRSA infections, found that such infections are now “endemic, and in some cases epidemic,” in many U.S. hospitals, long-term care facilities and communities. Study researchers say that control of the infection should be made a “national priority.”

Full Document (PDF; 192 KB)

Vaccine Prioritization During an Influenza Pandemic

Source: Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, George Mason University School of Law

Preparing for an influenza pandemic is a monumental challenge and requires participation from federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector. It is with great pleasure that the George Mason University School of Law’s Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Program publishes a collection of essays (PDF; 737 KB) on vaccine prioritization during an influenza pandemic. The United States government is spending a significant amount of time and resources examining and preparing for the possible threat of an influenza pandemic. A major challenge in preparing for an influenza pandemic encompasses vaccine prioritization. Specifically, if a pandemic were to occur and vaccines needed to be distributed, who should be first to receive vaccines? Should first responders or critical infrastructure employees have priority to receive the vaccines?

The CIP Program invited leading scholars to address this important issue. The essays focus on different concerns about vaccine prioritization. The first essay, submitted by Dr. Colleen Hardy, of the George Mason University School of Law’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, provides an overview of current federal response plans to an influenza pandemic. Specifically, it summarizes the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) influenza plan concerning vaccine prioritization. In addition, the essay describes the National Infrastructure Advisory Council’s (NIAC) Working Group on Pandemics’ recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security and HHS.

CDC estimates 94,000 invasive drug-resistant staph infections occurred in the U.S. in 2005

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) caused more than 94,000 life-threatening infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, most of them associated with health care settings, according to the most thorough study of life-threatening infections caused by these bacteria, experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

The study in the Oct. 17 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) establishes the first national baseline by which to assess future trends in invasive MRSA infections. MRSA infections can range from mild skin infections to more severe infections of the bloodstream, lungs and at surgical sites. The study found about 85 percent of all invasive MRSA infections were associated with health care settings, of which two-thirds surfaced in the community among people who were hospitalized, underwent a medical procedure or resided in a long-term care facility within the previous year. In contrast, about 15 percent of reported infections were considered to be community-associated, which means that the infection occurred in people without documented health care risk factors. The 2005 rates of invasive infection were highest among people 65 years of age or older. Black people were affected at twice the rate of whites, which could be due to higher rates of chronic illness among blacks.

MRSA Toolkit for Middle & High Schools

Source: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

This toolkit has been designed to help prevent and stop or reduce the spread of Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infections in middle and high schools. It contains educational materials targeted to the school health team, athletic directors/coaches, custodians, athletes/students and parents.

See also: MRSA Toolkit for Elementary Schools

MRSA Toolkit for Childcare Centers

MRSA Toolkit for Outpatient Clinics/Offices

Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work: 2006

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Both the rate and the number of occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work decreased from 2005 to 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department Labor. The 2006 rate was 128 per 10,000 workers, a decrease of 6 percent from 2005. There were 1.2 million cases requiring days away from work in private industry, which represented a decrease of 51,180 cases (or 4 percent). Median days away from work–a key measure of the severity of the injury or illness–was 7 days in 2006, the same as the prior two years.

News release (PDF; 227 KB)

Social Workers and Safety

Source: National Association of Social Workers, WKF-MISC-1308, 2007

In 2004, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) partnered with the Center for Health Workforce Studies, University at Albany, to conduct a benchmark national study of 10,000 licensed social workers. The study achieved a response rate of nearly 50 percent. The information presented in this fact sheet is based on that study and its findings.

The study examined a number of variables related to licensed social workers and their practices, including demographic information, practice issues, services to clients, and workplace issues. In response to the question, “Are you faced with personal safety issues in your primary employment practice?” a surprising 44 percent of the respondents answered affirmatively. Thirty percent of these social workers did not think that their employers adequately addressed the safety issues.

This fact sheet explores some of the factors associated with social workers who face personal safety issues in their employment.

Patient-handling innovations ease strain, reduce injuries at Burnsville hospital

Source: John Gessner, Thisweek Newspapers, 10/26/07

…State law reflects growing concern about workplace safety of nurses, especially as hospitals deal with a national nursing shortage.

By next July 1, all Minnesota hospitals must have policies to minimize nurses’ manual lifting of patients by 2011. The law calls for hospitals to use handling equipment and building modifications to achieve the goals….
Related:
American Nurses Association “Handle With Care” Campaign Fact Sheet

Job Strain and Risk of Acute Recurrent Coronary Heart Disease Events

Source: Corine Aboa-Éboulé, Chantal Brisson, Elizabeth Maunsell, Benoît Mâsse, Renée Bourbonnais, Michel Vézina, Alain Milot, Pierre Théroux, and, Gilles R. Dagenais, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 298 no. 14, October 10, 2007
(subscription required)

It has been shown in several but not all studies that job strain, a combination of high psychological demands and low decision latitude, increases the risk of a first coronary heart disease (CHD) event. However, the association of job strain with the risk of recurrent CHD events after a first myocardial infarction (MI) has been documented in only 2 prospective studies whose findings were inconsistent. Two major limitations of these previous studies were that they did not assess the duration of psychosocial work exposure and were conducted with a limited number of participants. Our study was undertaken to determine whether job strain increases the risk of recurrent CHD events when the duration of psychosocial work exposure is taken into account in a large cohort who returned to work after a first recent MI.

September 11: Improvements Needed in Availability of Health Screening and Monitoring Services for Responders, September 10, 2007

Source: Cynthia A. Bascetta, testimony before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-07-1229T, September 10, 2007

Six years after the attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), concerns persist about health effects experienced by WTC responders and the availability of health care services for those affected. Several federally funded programs provide screening, monitoring, or treatment services to responders. GAO has previously reported on the progress made and implementation problems faced by these WTC health programs.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Fire Fighters and EMS Responders

Source: Diane L. Elliot, Kerry S. Kuehl, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the United States, Fire Administration (USFA), Oregon Health & Science University, June 2007

From the summary:
This new report, The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Fire Fighters and EMS Responders, along with its accompanying computer-based educational program, presents background information on normal sleep physiology and the health and performance effects of sleep deprivation. Countermeasures for sleep deprivation are reviewed, which relate to identifying those particularly susceptible to risks of sleep deprivation, individual mitigating strategies and work-related issues. The project was supported by a cooperative agreement between the IAFC and the United States Fire Administration (USFA), with assistance from the faculty of Oregon Health & Science University.