The Facts on Communicable Diseases - Part 1
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Communicable diseases present a unique risk in healthcare facilities. Aside from your duty to your patients, you also have the important responsibility of safeguarding your employees’ health and safety while they are in the workplace. In order to do that, you need to be prepared in case of a communicable disease outbreak, either amongst your staff or your local community, so that you can take measures to maintain a safe working environment. With the recent events of Ebola spreading in hospitals, now more than ever, facilities should get educated.
Communicable Disease Policy
You should be concerned not only by diseases your patients may have, but also by any disease that your workers may bring into the facility. You should develop a communicable disease policy requiring employees to notify their supervisor of any possible exposure to infectious diseases. This will allow you to take proactive preventive measures against the spread of the disease.
Because medical disclosures are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must ensure that the policy meets the requirements of the ADA, including keeping employee health information confidential as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As part of the policy, employees may be asked to work reduced hours or perform modified job duties until they are no longer contagious.
Travel and Quarantine Policies
As you know, it is important that health care workers get vaccinated when applicable, and that applies to overseas travel as well. If employees are travelling to areas with recent communicable disease outbreaks, they must obtain all recommended vaccinations and follow all health procedures.
If employees travel abroad and must be quarantined upon return, they should notify you immediately to arrange for paid leave or other options. This policy should be communicated to employees prior to travel.
Social distancing is one of the best methods to prevent the spread of a communicable disease in the workplace. In your facility, that may mean that the best course of action for an ill employee is to stay home to reduce the likelihood of infecting others. Beyond this, other employees may need to miss work to care for sick family members during a disease outbreak. In response, companies should consider devising policies to address these concerns and leave issues.
Leave policies should address the following issues:
- Maintenance of all facility operations.
- Sustaining a functioning workforce to minimize the effects of employee absenteeism, including backup procedures for critical positions.
- Compliance with applicable laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
- Address the following logistical concerns:
-How employees request communicable disease leave.
-Requirements for regularly reporting medical conditions.
-Whether leave is paid or unpaid.
-Whether benefits are provided or accrued during the leave period.
-If leave becomes exhausted, whether employee will be required to return to work.
Healthcare facilities can’t afford to not be proactive. Get prepared now, or you run a greater risk down the road. To learn more about minimizing your risk, check out the related links below.
Ebola: Just the Facts – Blog Article
Don’t be Next: Data Breach Affects 4.5M Healthcare Patients - Blog Article
The Itchy Facts about Latex Allergies – Blog Article
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