The American Public Health Association (APHA) sent a letter to President Obama urging support from the White House on CDC guidelines on N95 respiratory protection for healthcare workers from the H1N1 virus.   APHA OHS Section members learned last week that three organizations—Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), Infectious Disease Society of American (IDSA), Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)—-asked President Obama to intervene in federal OSH policy, specifically to:

  • modify the federal PPE guidance to allow the use of surgical masks (instead of N95’s) for routine H1N1 patient care; and
  • institute an immediate moratorium on the enforcement of OSHA’s requirements for healthcare facilities related to the use of N95 respirators in relation to H1N1 influenza.         

APHA politely rebutted these ideas:

“We support the efforts of public health agencies such as HHS, CDC, NIOSH, DOL and OSHA to engage the National Academy of Sciences’ institute of Medicine to full examine the evidence that has lead to sound federal public health policy.  Thank you for your support for sensible, evidence based policies for protecting healthcare workers and the public.”    

The APHA letter was signed by the organization’s executive director, Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, and Kate McPhaul, PhD, RN, chair of the APHA OHS Section.