The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance on protecting healthcare workers from H1N1 affirms that N95 respirators should be used, but also emphasizes the importance of other preventive steps and recommends ways to use N95 respirators strategically when supplies are limited. CIDRAP’s Lisa Schnirring reports:

In today’s guidance the CDC advised facilities to use a hierarchy of controls to prevent flu transmission, starting with eliminating potential exposures such as postponing elective visits by patients who have influenza-like symptoms.

Engineering controls were next, which might involve installing partitions in triage areas or other public spaces. Administrative controls included employee vaccination and enforcing rules about working when sick and implementing respiratory or cough hygiene strategies.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) was ranked lowest on the hierarchy list, because it is the last line of defense when other measures can’t be controlled. …

Given that the respirators are likely to be in short supply, the CDC recommends reserving them for situations when protection is most important, such as during aerosol-generating procedures. 

In other news:

New York Times: An acting justice of New York’s State Supreme Court has issued a restraining order halting enforcement of a state directive requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated for both seasonal and swine flu.

Associated Press: As a Marine in the 1970s, Hermogenes Marrero was assigned to Camp Garcia in Vieques, where he handled numerous chemicals as part of a weapons-testing program. Now, he’s seeking recognition that his numerous ailments – including cancers and Lou Gehrig’s disease – are service-related, and is serving as a witness in a lawsuit that seeks compensation for sick Vieques residents.

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: A Europe-wide poll about health and safety in the workplace finds that many workers fear tough economic conditions will result in deteriorating workplace health and safety.

New York Times: The Department of Veterans Affairs proposes that Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease, and hairy-cell leukemia be added to the list of diseases linked to Agent Orange; this will make it easier Vietnam veterans who were exposed to that pesticide and now suffer from these ailments to receive disability payments and healthcare from the VA.

Washington Post: James Wilson, 40, of Glassboron, NJ, was killed when the construction lift he was working in toppled.