Study: Avoiding Infectious Aerosols

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) https://www.jhuapl.edu a not-for-profit division of Johns Hopkins University (JHU), in collaboration with the Johns Hopkin’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality have initiated a study sponsored by CDC to conduct an analysis of aerosol generation in healthcare settings.

The goal is to reduce the exposure of frontline healthcare workers and patients to potentially infectious aerosols. The two year APL effort is part of Project Firstline, the CDC initiative aimed at training and empowering every member of the healthcare workforce with infection control knowledge.

The goal is to implement actions so that the healthcare workforce is able to protect themselves, their facility, and their community against the wide array of routine infectious risks encountered every day in healthcare settings.

Air and aerosol movement has been documented as contributors to healthcare associated infections including those related to surgical procedures in operating rooms.

However, there isn’t a detailed study available of how and where air and aerosols move in surgical settings. Managing and maintaining the healthcare environment and the medical devices used are crucial components of effective infection control.

In the absence of systematic measurement and assessment of aerosol production, it is unclear as to which procedures require additional precautions, such as special environmental controls and personal protective equipment.

The APL team will work with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, to examine the operating room environment, individual and team behaviors, and workflows. The team will also zero in on common patient care devices that are potential contributors to cross transmission from patient to patient, identify likely failure points, and determine how these failures can be systematically mitigated through technological solutions and/or by making  adjustments in workflow and/or staff training.

Along with healthcare professionals at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and multidisciplinary experts from APL, the study will also work with environmental scientists, infectious disease epidemiologists, computational physicists, health systems engineers, mechanical engineers, aerosol scientists, molecular biologists, and geneticists.

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