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Healthcare workers: protecting those who protect our health.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1997 Jun; 18(6):397-399
The nation's healthcare system is in a transition of potentially historic proportions, driven by the need for cost-effectiveness under pressures of cost containment and competition, but also made possible by scientific and technological breakthroughs. This transition presents new challenges and opportunities for protecting the health and safety of our nation's healthcare workers. Toward the goal of maximizing future opportunities for the primary prevention of illnesses and injuries among healthcare workers, a brief review of history in relationship to this work force should assist us in identifying successful models for future action. In the United States, the practice of occupational health dates back to the late 1800s. National professional societies in occupational medicine and nursing were established in 1916 and 1942, respectively. The hospital and healthcare environments did not become a focus of study and prevention strategies until much later. In fact, as recently as the 1950's, there still was no consensus regarding the occupational risk of tuberculosis (tB) exposure. It has been suggested that a number of factors drove this lack of consensus, including the fear that young women would avoid nursing if they knew the risks involved and that liability might surface. It was not unti1 tB declined significantly in the general public but remained elevated in the medical profession that 1B was recognized fully as an occupational hazard.
Health-care; Health-care-personnel; Nursing; Occupational-medicine-programs; Viral-diseases; Bacterial-disease; Bacterial-infections; Bloodborne-pathogens; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-diseases; Anesthetics; Cytotoxins; Hepatitis; Allergies
L. Rosenstock, Director, NIOSH, Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg, Room 71511, 200 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20201
Issue of Publication
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division