EM clinicians report inadequate infection control

NEARLY half of emergency care clinicians believe that the layout of their department is not safe enough for adequate infection control for coronavirus, according to a survey conducted by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The survey of 1,167 RCEM members found that that 69 per cent reported that they do not have negative pressure rooms in Emergency Departments and 72 per cent reported they do not have enough side rooms.

A third of respondents reported having had episodes where they lacked access to PPE items when having clinical contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. A third also reported having had incidents where they had to reuse disposable PPE, and one in 10 have not had training in the use of PPE.

Seven out of 10 disagreed with the statement "the UK government is doing enough to protect and test healthcare workers" and over half reported that their mental health had worsened because of the pandemic.

Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: "These results show there is still much work to be done particularly in terms of Emergency Department design and configuration. Negative pressure rooms are vital to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus and it is concerning that hospitals do not appear to have enough.

"We knew before the pandemic that many Emergency Departments needed to be rebuilt or completely redesigned to be able to provide 21st century care, but now it is crucial. Without measures to enforce social distancing, EDs risk becoming sponges for the infection; crowded departments could turbo-charge its spread so physical capacity must be expanded to help prevent this.

"Understandably Personal Protective Equipment has been a major concern for our staff as these results show. We are pleased that many of the early supply issues seem to have been resolved but staff should never have been put in a situation where they were forced to reuse disposable PPE.

"The worry over PPE may well have been a contributing factor in the 50.47% reporting a negative impact on their mental health and may also be reflected in the high numbers reporting concerns for the health of their colleagues."

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