Kaiser cited over lack of COVID-19 airborne precautions

California officials cited Kaiser Permante for failing to treat COVID-19 as an airborne disease at a psychiatric facility in Santa Clara, reports CALMatters, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom.

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued the citation Oct. 14 and recommended a  $11,200 fine. Workplace safety officials say the psychiatric facility failed to provide N95 masks for workers, among other infection-control deficiencies.

The citation marks the first of numerous citations Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente will likely receive for failing to acknowledge that COVID-19 can be spread via aerosols, a state employee who wished to remain anonymous told CALMatters. 

Kaiser said it respectfully disagrees with the citation and plans to appeal. Paul Thottingal, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Kaiser, said the health system follows the CDC's droplet precautions guidelines and California's aerosol transmissible diseases standards for all relevant procedures. Employees treating confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients also wear proper personal protective equipment and work in isolated areas, according to Dr. Thottingal. 

"This approach is in line with CDC guidance, recommendations by the World Health Organization, and Cal/OSHA, and is consistent with the practices of other healthcare providers in California and around the country," he said in a statement to Becker's.


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