Face masks rank last in new H1N1 guidelines

Keeping influenza patients away from others is crucial: report

New guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at protecting hospital staff from swine flu are urging hospitals to vaccinate as many staff as possible and bar entry to visitors with flu-like symptoms. Specifically, the CDC recommended partitions in waiting rooms and special equipment for airway suction in patients with breathing tubes, as well as staff vaccination, hand-washing and keeping patients with flu-like illness separate from the general population. On the other hand, protective equipment like face masks, which are the best protection against the virus, ranked last. The masks, called N95 respirators, are in short supply, must fit properly, and can be uncomfortable to wear, Reuters reports, and therefore were not at the top of the CDC’s list. “We could actually put healthcare workers at greater risk by further reducing an already short supply of a device that is needed for high-risk procedures such as bronchoscopy by using it for routine care,” said Dr. Mark Rupp of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. “The best science available leaves no doubt that the best way to protect people is by vaccinating them.”


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