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Infectious Diseases Impact Healthcare Workers


  • Succinct summary of healthcare worker exposure risks and risk reduction strategies
  • Rigorous research approach using Abt expertise
  • Infectious disease profiles, reports, and scientific support of regulation development
The Challenge

Healthcare workers (HCWs) are a pivotal part of controlling the spread of infectious diseases and are at the forefront of the response to emerging pathogens. However, HCWs themselves are at high risk of exposure to these infectious diseases. To protect HCWs (including home HCWs, lab workers, etc.), Abt Associates was tasked to provide OSHA support in developing a proposed infectious disease rulemaking.

The Approach

Abt’s health analysts, epidemiologists, industrial hygienists, and medical doctors conducted a systematic literature search of the impact of good infectious disease control practices on the transmission of influenza and performed targeted reviews of other infectious agents to draft profiles of the agents the regulation covers. This included, among other things, researching and analyzing health effects characteristics from transmission routes to drug resistance, the likelihood of exposure to workers who provide healthcare services and workers who handle contaminated material, and risk factors for worker exposure.

The Results

The Abt Team wrote infectious disease profiles for several emerging, contact-transmissible, droplet-transmissible, and airborne-transmissible diseases. They included severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), norovirus, influenza, and tuberculosis. We identified problems with surge capacity during pandemics. In addition, the team drafted reports detailing the effectiveness of both good infection control practices (GICPs) and good biosafety practices (GBSPs), authoritative recognition of infectious disease risk to HCWs, and evidence of lack of adherence to GICP and GBSP. The Abt Team also summarized guidance for home healthcare workers on infectious disease risk factors and risk reduction strategies.