CDC Advisors Recommend Masks in Hospitals Without Naming Type

Health care workers frustrated that the draft recommendation does not specify what kind of mask should be worn
different masks
different masks

MONDAY, Nov. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Advisors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have voted to recommend that health providers wear masks during routine care for patients who are thought to be contagious.

Still, health care workers were frustrated that the draft recommendation does not specify what kind of mask should be worn -- loose-fitting surgical masks or fitted, tightly woven N95 masks.

The CDC advisors did recommend using N95s when patients are infected with new or emerging pathogens for which vaccines and treatments are not available, and those masks were also recommended when patients may have infections that are known to spread easily through the air, such as measles, CNN reported.

The new draft guidelines, issued Friday from the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) are not mandatory, but they are often used and agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration tend to base worker safety standards on them.

"HICPAC's draft is permissive and weak and seeks not just to maintain existing practice -- which has been shown to be inadequately protective -- but even rolls back the use of some important measures, such as airborne infection isolation rooms," Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, R.N., president of National Nurses United, said in a statement. "This draft guidance will only further degrade the already dangerous working conditions of nurses and other health care workers and further contribute to high rates of moral distress, which will only serve to drive more nurses away from the bedside and further deepen the staffing crisis in health care."

The committee's vote will be forwarded to the CDC for approval, though the agency could ask for more review. The guidance may again be revised after a 60-day comment period. Final guidelines are not expected until 2024, CNN reported.

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