Reducing occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2: A survey of changes in caseload and controls among medical examiner and coroners’ offices in Pennsylvania during 2020

Source avec lien : Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, 19(5). 10.1080/15459624.2022.2050740

L’objectif de cette étude était d’évaluer les tâches de routine des bureaux des médecins légistes et des coroners (par exemple, les tests de maladies infectieuses et le transport des défunts) en enquêtant auprès des 67 bureaux de médecins légistes et de coroners de comté en Pennsylvanie afin de caractériser la façon dont l’augmentation des cas de maladies infectieuses due à la pandémie COVID-19 a influencé la charge de travail et les besoins en ressources.

Like their counterparts in healthcare, workers in medical examiner and coroners’ offices are considered essential workers. The frequency and urgency of their work during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have only become of greater importance. Because of the increased mortality in the general population due to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it is reasonable to assume that the workload and risk of occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 have increased for these workers who are required by state law to investigate deaths known or suspected to be due to a contagious disease that constitutes a public hazard. Studies investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these workers and their operations have been limited. The objective of this study was to conduct an assessment of routine medical examiner and coroners’ office duties (e.g., infectious disease testing and decedent transport) by surveying the 67 county medical examiner and coroners’ offices in Pennsylvania to characterize how the rise in infectious disease cases from COVID-19 influenced workload and resource needs. Quantitative results demonstrated an increase in workload and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) while engineering control usage remained the same. Qualitative results revealed various challenges experienced by the offices during the pandemic including limitations in access to PPE, insufficient storage space for increased numbers of decedents, personnel shortage/burnout, and limited or no engagement at the state level for emergency response planning and implementation. These data are valuable to inform the need for additional guidance or supplies and may be used to optimize resource planning and implementation (e.g., personnel, facilities, and supplies) for both routine and surge demand scenarios.

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