Cal/OSHA hits hospital for aerosol transmissible disease violation

By: April 23rd, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

In a major application of California’s aerosol transmissible disease standard—the only one currently on the books in the US—Cal/OSHA fined Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Oakland, $101,485.

The case involved a December 3, 2009 “incident in which police and firefighters conducted a welfare check of a 36-year-old man who was later confirmed to have bacterial meningitis,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, April 21.

Paramedics then brought the patient to the hospital where a respiratory therapist who treated the patient became ill with bacterial meningitis and was admitted to the intensive care unit of John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, CA, a week after the exposure, according to the Chronicle.

An exposure also occurred to a responding police officer who was hospitalized.

In addition to the hospital’s fine, the Oakland Police and Fire departments received fines for not preventing worker exposure to bacterial meningitis, a violation of the aerosol transmissible disease standard.


By Marlene Waymack on April 23rd, 2010 at 10:42 am

We prophylax our employees exposed to such and we notify EMS/police that they have been exposed so that they may receive prophylaxis. Was this not done at the offending facility? There may be other factors involved: how long before meningitis was suspected and diagnosed?
Tell the entire story please.

By Ron Clinedinst on April 27th, 2010 at 9:06 am

I agree with Marlene. We need more of the story. Your short synopsis lends to the ones involved doing everything wrong. Did the responders or the RT know what they were dealing with? It appears by your article you are trying to get people to add comments without knowing the whole story (truth).

This is a clear indication on where we are headed. You migh want to get your PAPR ready because if you work in a healthcare facility, you are going to need to wear it everyday, all the time. The Paramedics and Firefighters can not diagnose that the person has an infectious disease.

To what extent will we carry this. You have to wear a moon suit to see any patient with sniffles?

By David LaHoda on April 27th, 2010 at 10:38 am

You are correct; this was a synopsis, but even a brief report can provide useful news while eliciting thoughtful comments. Here are some more detailed reports, including the official Cal/OSHA news release.


CBS News

Safety Training Specialists

Perhaps these additional sources provide information addressing your concerns.

I am not sure why they got cited for lack of fit testing, Meningitis requires surgical masks not respirators.


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