Union asks OSHA to inspect 17 HCA hospitals for workplace safety

The union representing nurses at HCA Healthcare-owned-and-operated hospitals is asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inspect 17 HCA facilities for workplace safety hazards.

National Nurses United said Aug. 24 it seeks OSHA sanctions on HCA at facilities in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas.

In its complaint, the union alleges the facilities are affected by dangerous conditions, including failing to notify workers when they've been exposed to COVID-19 and requiring asymptomatic workers who are or may be infected to continue working. This behavior leads to spread of COVID-19 and jeopardized the health of nurses and other healthcare workers, the union said. 

The union says HCA even has a written policy of making asymptomatic employees work after their exposure to COVID-19, despite the CDC's recommendation against this.

The CDC recommends transmission-based precautions at hospitals last at least 10 days and up to 20 days after COVID-19 symptom onset of patients with severe to critical illness who have compromised immune systems. For patients with mild to moderate illness who do not have compromised immune systems, precautions should last at least 10 days since the first appearance of symptoms, the agency advises.

During the precautionary period, appropriate personal protective equipment should be used while treating COVID-19 patients, and their transport and movement should be restricted, the CDC advises.

But Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA disputes the union's allegations and says it is following recommended CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 testing and has been focused on protecting workers since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Our front-line caregivers have shown unwavering commitment, and our efforts to protect them have included screening and testing, universal masking, contact tracing and notification and other safeguards, in line with guidance from the CDC," HCA said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "We're proud of our response and the significant resources we've deployed to help protect our colleagues." 


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