The following is a compilation of resources to help audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in all practice settings protect themselves and their clients, students, and patients from infection.
Many audiologists and SLPs providers are continuing to provide patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OSHA Guidance Summary: Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 [PDF] suggests the following related to infection control:
Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment. When choosing cleaning chemicals, employers should consult information on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant labels with claims against emerging viral pathogens. Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method, and contact time, PPE).
Audiologists and SLPs working in various settings have had questions about what they can use to disinfect against COVID-19 after a patient encounter has occurred, and before another patient is brought into the same space. To determine if the products you are using are recognized as meeting COVID-19 requirements, check the United States EPA's Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, and match the EPA registration number on your disinfectant against the list on the EPA website. In addition, the EPA offers a list of frequently asked questions about disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2.
Other resources about disinfectants:
ASHA's on-demand webinar, “An Overview of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Settings," also offers valuable information on how to implement appropriate infection control practices in different work settings.
Standard Precautions used to be called "Universal Precautions." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends certain practices for the prevention of blood-borne pathogens. Training on these guidelines is mandated annually for all individuals who are recognized as at-risk of occupational exposure for blood-borne pathogens.
Standard Precautions include hand hygiene, sterilization of reusable equipment, isolation precautions, wearing personal protective equipment, following needle safety and sharps disposal procedures, and understanding medical waste disposal.
Hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent infection and is often considered the first line of defense against germs. Hand hygiene is important for the safety of health care workers and the patients they treat.
Isolation Precautions are precautions that are taken in health care settings to prevent the spread of an infectious agent from an infected or colonized patient to susceptible persons.
Personal protective equipment includes gloves, face masks, gowns, protective glasses and other equipment used to provide a barrier of safety between the health care worker and the patient. Federal health care agencies provide specific guidance regarding use of personal protective equipment. ASHA recommends that employers provide audiologists and SLPs adequate protection for all patient contact, consistent with the CDC recommended guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE).
Unfortunately, needlestick injuries occur in health care. Most needlestick injuries involve nurses, laboratory technicians, physicians, and housekeeping staff; however, it is important that all health care workers be aware of the relevant health information.
CDC Methods for Sterilizing and Disinfecting Patient-Care Items and Environmental Surfaces
Quality Indicators for Professional Service Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
See section III. D. Physical Facilities, Equipment, and Program Environment, for a mention of infection control within program operations.