Promoting Health Worker Safety; A Priority for Patient Safety during COVID -19 Pandemic and Beyond
Keywords:COVID-19, Health worker, patient safety, Health system, Infection prevention and control, Psychological wellbeing
Background: As per World Health Organization, health workers accounted for over 1.4 million COVID-19
infections globally. This paper attempts to identify key risk factors for health worker infections in India,
describe its impact on their wellbeing and the health systems, and derive lessons from other country
experiences, that could be adapted to Indian context for strengthening health workers safety and preparing
health systems for future waves.
Methods: A systematic review of existing published articles, government and media reports was undertaken.
Online databases -MEDLINE, EMBASE, PUBMED and Google Scholar were searched using key terms
related to COVID-19 infections in health workers. Thirty-four papers were included dependent on their
relevance to research objectives.
Conclusions: The key risk factors for health workers infection were; unsafe exposure to patients infected
with COVID-19, lack of adequate personal protective equipment, and suboptimal infection prevention and
control measures and compliance. Health workers infection has impacted their health and psychosocial
wellbeing and diminished healthcare system capacity to provide safe and effective healthcare. Safeguarding
the health workers is critical, and requires multifaceted approach for strengthening infection prevention
and control measures and supplies, strategic workforce planning, dedicated policies and capacity building