Study assesses healthcare workers' exposures to airborne influenza virus

In United States, more than 18 million workers are employed in healthcare sector.  Healthcare workers providing direct patient care services face a wide range of hazards including exposures to infectious diseases.  Every year, these cases of occupational illnesses with healthcare workers are among the highest than any other industry sector.  Dr. Deepthi Sharan Thatiparti at Sentrywell technologies conducted a research study to investigate alternate ventilation systems design for evaluating and improving healthcare workers' health and safety in Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms.  Dr. Thatiparti is one of the world's leading public health experts.  She published cutting-edge research on infectious diseases prevention and control to help people live better lives.  Her recent peer-reviewed publications include "Risk Assessment of Infectious-Bioaerosol exposures to hospital Health-Care Workers. Development and Testing of innovative Medical Countermeasures in Isolation rooms" and "An Efficient Ventilation Configuration for Preventing Bioaerosol Exposures to Health Care Workers in Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms".   

Pandemic influenza that can occur any time remains a concern for healthcare workers. The pandemic flu in 2009 created significant challenges for healthcare workers.  Back in 2016, Dr. Thatiparti published a paper on "Assessing Effectiveness of Ceiling-Ventilated Mock Airborne Infection Isolation Room in Preventing Hospital-Acquired Influenza Transmission to Health Care Workers".  The findings in the study indicated that the current infection control guidelines and Practices for existing Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms may not be adequate to protect healthcare workers during a pandemic scenario.

To ensure healthcare workers' safety, Dr. Thatiparti worked on an innovative design and construction of an alternate ventilation configuration Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms to study its influence on the possible flow path of infectious flu virus dispersal behavior within the room.  An alternate ventilation configuration of a mock Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR) was modeled to retain the linear supply diffuser in the original AIIR but interchanging the square supply and exhaust locations to place the exhaust closer to the patient and allow clean air from supply vents to flow in clean-to-dirty flow paths, originating in uncontaminated parts of the room prior to entering the contaminated patient's space. A patient cough cycle was introduced into the simulation, and the airborne infection dispersal was tracked in time using a multi-phase flow simulation approach.

The findings from the alternate configuration revealed that, during the initial stages of the flu patient's cough, the alternate ventilation configuration of an AIIR was efficient in controlling the infectious flu virus flow path and preventing its exposures to healthcare worker standing next to patient's bed.  The aerosols flowing directly towards the exhaust vent are removed from the room.  However, not all the aerosols are immediately removed by the exhaust.  The remaining aerosols flow back in to the supply airstream and gradually move towards the healthcare worker's zone over time.  This resulted in one of the critical stages in terms of the health care worker's exposure to airborne virus and presented the opportunity for the health care worker to suffer adverse health effects from the inhalation of cough aerosols.  Hence, the evaluated alternate airborne infection isolation room is not completely effective over time in removing the particles exposed to health care workers.


Sentrywell Technologies LLC



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