IAHCSMM Resources: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updated 4/7/2020
IAHCSMM understands that many of its members, certificants and others within the Sterile Processing community may have questions and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including how it might affect their workplace practices. We wish to be a source of support for you at this challenging time. and have compiled this resource page to help you and your facilities more easily navigate this evolving situation.
Please note: This information is provided by IAHCSMM as a resource only and should not take the place of your facility’s existing policies and procedures. Check with your facility before implementing changes to your system. Also, there is an abundance of resources available from governmental agencies (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others) that address COVID-19, and many are updating their recommendations and study data frequently as more data surrounding this novel virus is attained. The resources provided by IAHCSMM are in no way exhaustive and the content from the links below may change as more information becomes available. We encourage you to visit the agencies’ websites for the most current information.
What does The Joint Commission say about the mask issue?
The Joint Commission supports allowing staff to bring their own standard face masks or respirators to wear at work when their healthcare organizations cannot routinely provide access to protective equipment that is commensurate with the risk to which they are exposed. For the full details, visit: https://www.jointcommission.org/-/media/tjc/documents/resources/patient-safety-topics/infection-prevention-and-hai/covid19/public_statement_on_masks_from_home.pdf
To find out more, visit The Joint Commission's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page at: https://www.jointcommission.org/covid-19/
How do I handle items contaminated with COVID-19?
AAMI and IAHCSMM held a Town Hall on March 30th: Sterilization and COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration addresses COVID-19 processing at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#health. What follows is an excerpt from that link:
Cleaning and disinfection:
- Follow standard practices for high-level disinfection and sterilization of semi-critical and critical medical devices contaminated with COVID-19, as described in the CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008.
What guidance does the FDA provide on N95 respirators and masks?
The US Food and Drug Administration addresses common questions regarding masks and gowns, and also provides specific usage recommendations and conservation strategies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What guidance does the CDC provide on N95 respirators and masks?
The CDC addresses N95 respirators and masks in a document called: “Recommended Guidance for Extended Use and Limited Reuse of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators in Healthcare Settings”. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html
Which disinfectants kill the COVID-19 virus?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes the following regarding disinfectant efficacy for COVID-19:
At this time, there is no EPA-approved list of disinfectants effective against COVID-19. EPA does not categorize disinfectants as hospital- or commercial-grade or keep a list of EPA-registered antimicrobial products registered for use in healthcare facilities. As a result, products effective at inactivating the virus must be determined based on data associated with inactivating similar or hardier (i.e., more difficult to inactivate) viruses. COVID-19 is a coronavirus and highly susceptible to inactivation by many commonly used disinfectants. Currently, OSHA recommends following SARS disinfection practices (see section D-10 in the linked document) for environmental areas contaminated with COVID-19.
The CDC advises the use of EPA-registered chemical germicides that provide low- or intermediate-level disinfection for SARS during general use (surface and noncritical patient-care equipment) because these products inactivate related viruses with similar physical and biochemical properties. CDC's Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 provides information on the effectiveness of germicides on coronaviruses.
The EPA provides a list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19 in Schedule N on their website: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
Additional information can be found at the EPA COVID-19 site: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus
Should medical waste or general waste from healthcare facilities treating patients under investigation (PUIs) and patients with confirmed COVID-19 be handled any differently or need any additional disinfection?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “medical waste (trash) coming from healthcare facilities treating COVID-2019 patients is no different than waste coming from facilities without COVID-19 patients. CDC’s guidance states that management of laundry, food service utensils, and medical waste should be performed in accordance with routine procedures. There is no evidence to suggest that facility waste needs any additional disinfection.”
For more information, visit: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#health.
How long does COVID-19 survive in the air and on surfaces?
On March 17, 2020, the National Institutes of Health issued a news release stating that COVID-19 is stable for hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. To access the full release, visit: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces
Also, a recent Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention study found the virus can survive up to 17 days on surfaces that have not been disinfected. That study can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_w
This is unlike any situation I have ever seen. Can you offer any tips for handling the stress?
The World Health Organization provided a graphic with suggestions to help cope with stress. It may be a nice addition to your department’s bulletin board. Visit: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/coping-with-stress.pdf?sfvrsn=9845bc3a_2
Also, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) also provides some good ideas in their list of “Seven Ways to Cope with Anxiety During the Coronavirus Outbreak.” Visit: https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/coronavirus-anxiety.html
What is the difference between quarantine, isolation and social distancing?
The Cleveland Clinic answered that question in its article, “COVID-19: Understanding Quarantine, Isolation and Social Distancing in a Pandemic. Plus, 3 ways to protect yourself without freaking out.” Visit: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/covid-19-understanding-quarantine-isolation-and-social-distancing-in-a-pandemic/