Infection control and prevention among healthcare workers (HCWs) is crucial to keeping a facility safe and compliant. But tracking employee exposures can be overwhelming during public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, when hundreds of employee records may need to be modified quickly.1
Multiple exposure tracking in hospitals and clinics requires:
- A formal surveillance plan.
- The collection of accurate data.
- Clear, concise, and readily-available reporting mechanisms.
Below, we’ll look at how Employee Health (EH) software can automate exposure tracking to:
- Reduce labor and reporting errors.
- Decrease the risk of understaffing due to incomplete reporting.
- Monitor employees who have been exposed to infectious diseases.
Save Time and Reduce Errors
Accurate and efficient exposure recording requires doing away with paper tracking and manual data entry. Whether a facility is coping with a COVID surge or a flu outbreak, an EH department won’t have time to record exposure data in each employee record. Even if they do, manual tracking can lead to reporting errors. Multiple studies have shown that upwards of 85% of spreadsheets contain errors.2
By using Employee Health software, such as Net Health® Employee Health, EH nurses only have to record the details of an outbreak once and along with the names of exposed staff members.
Software will not only do the work of updating individual employee files, but it can also help EH employees:
- Initiate proactive follow-up contact.
- Prevent lags in exposure reporting that help infections spread.
- Ensure healthy staff isn’t necessarily sidelined by imprecise data collection.
Reduce the Risk of Understaffing
Accurate data collection helps EH departments inform hospital staff of exposure promptly. When the tracking process is done manually, imprecise results can mean healthcare workers get sent home for isolation or to await testing to be on the safe side.3 This is not a sustainable model for already understaffed hospitals.
Caring for caregivers is crucial for hospital operations and patient safety.4 Staffing shortages lead to an unsafe work environment. A 2022 ECRI report on the Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns found understaffing topped the list. Earlier this year, the report estimated that 24% of US hospitals were critically understaffed.5
While multiple factors contribute to employee staff shortages in hospitals, automating the tracking of multiple exposures during the current public health emergency can alleviate one contributing factor.
Continue to Monitor Exposed Employees
While exposures should be recorded, not all of them necessarily require quarantine or work restrictions.
Using a comprehensive EH software suite during an emergency such as COVID-19 can help EH departments make the best decisions to protect staff and patients. For example, it can help:
- Monitor employees by automating daily surveys on an exposed HCW’s symptoms.
- Keeping track of locations where exposures occurred so HCWs know where and how long they may have been exposed.
- Track testing and quarantine compliance among workers.
- Easily assign work restrictions and end dates to exposed employees.
Utilize Employee Health Software for Multiple Exposures
Manual contact tracing is time-consuming and imprecise. Poor exposure tracking among healthcare workers during public health emergencies can be a matter of life or death.
It’s unclear how many HCWs have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 since many states do not report these infections. However, it’s estimated that 7-26% of COVID infections happen to HCWs.6 Quantifying the risk and tracing hospital exposures is a crucial step towards measuring the effect COVID has had on HCWs and identifying potential infections early to stop hospital spread and give the most at-risk workers the opportunity to monitor their symptoms.
To learn more about how Net Health® Employee Health can help your facility monitor multiple exposure tracking during an outbreak, schedule a demo with our staff.
Manual For Navigating COVID-19 and the Flu Season
1 Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Operational Considerations for the Identification of Healthcare Workers and Inpatients with Suspected COVID-19 in non-U.S. Healthcare Settings,” January 14, 2022.
2 Forbes, “Sorry, Your Spreadsheet Has Errors (Almost 90% Do),” September 13, 2014.
3 HealthLeaders, “Coronavirus: Automated Contact Tracing in Hospitals Called ‘Game Changer,'” February 22, 2021.
4 WTW, “The 2022 Labor Shortage and the Impact on Patient Safety,” May 6, 2022.
5 ECRI, “Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns 2022,” 2022.
6 Registered Nursing, “How Many Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Have Coronavirus?” August 5, 2022.