Lung Function and Pulmonary Function Tests
How Covid-19 Has Affected This Necessary Occupational Health Assessment.
The Covid-19 virus or, Coronavirus as it is dubbed, plunged the world into fear and uncertainty since its initial spread in December of 2019. It was declared a pandemic by the likes of the World Health Organization along with all governments globally.
Life as we knew it, became a distant memory and was quickly replaced by social distanced interactions, people were masked up in public and something as insignificant as a cough became a warning to possibly prepare for menacing times.
The virus is mainly transmitted by the respiratory function whereby droplets of saliva containing the virus can quickly infect other human beings at close contact. Risk is high for the likes of medical professionals, their patients and others that subsequently come into contact with them if they are infected or carriers of this ‘Super-Influenza’.
Covid-19 has affected individuals and the workplace alike – no industry survived unscathed. Once the virus achieved a mainstream spread, many pulmonology authorities immediately suspended any testing involving the respiratory system, and following suit, was the South African Thoracic Society, declaring among others, spirometry (lung function testing/LFT), and pulmonary function tests (PFTs), high risk and recommended halting of these tests to avoid high-risk transmission situations – the National Department of Health, sanctioning this decision in support of their view.
Naturally, PFTs cannot be put off indefinitely or even for a prolonged period – some patient groups are reliant on PFTs. Similarly, high pulmonary-risk jobs require lung function tests to ensure that employees working in such conditions have not developed or are free of such pulmonary conditions as Tuberculosis, Silicosis and even Miner’s pneumoconiosis. These include the mining sector, construction industry, power generation, oil and gas, and fertilizer manufacture among others. The need for lung function testing within many industries has increased in urgency with the passing months, as many workers are not getting the required screening and therefore, increasing risk to personal wellbeing and presenting a risk to their employers…
Care Net Consultants Brings You Great News On The Lung Function Testing Front
As of March 2022, we will be re-introducing LFT under safe practice procedures and protocols as outlined by Covid-19 safe practice on spirometry. Care Net Consultants will be assisting patients by level of risk to their exposures on the job first, and build up to pre-pandemic LFT services as the year advances.
What Are Safety Protocols Being Implemented?
A two-year learning curve has taught our medical virologists, scientists and titans of industry a fair bit about the pandemic – the single most important outtake from the virus is that we have learnt the ability to adapt. Adaptation did not only apply to our way of living and interaction with our fellow human beings but also, how to adapt to do business and find innovative ways of coping with this unwelcomed guest.
Due to manufacturing enhancements in the industry, we have managed to secure Bacterial, non-return filters which will significantly reduce, if not, eliminate the risk of the spread of Covid-19 pathogens. The filters conform to SANS 26782 compliance for spirometry devices, assuring their effectiveness and safety.
Care Net Consultants considers our customers’ safety and well-being as a top priority and even more so, under the current Covid-19 pandemic. We have ensured that, with the reintroduction of our LFTs, every safety measure is being prepared to prevent the transmission of any virus pathogens during testing.
Our measures commence with test area preparation. The spirometry testing area will be carefully prepared under strict Covid-19 sanitization protocols. Only the spirometry technician and the patient will be present along with maximum permissible ventilation/negative pressure while the test is being conducted. Spirometry testing will be available to be conducted in any of our fixed clinics and, off-site at our customers’ premises provided that safety conditions are met.
Staff administering the test will be fully clad in personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes but is not limited to N95 Face Masks; Face Shields; Gloves; Full coveralls. In addition to the safety wear, Care Net Consultants follows a stringent protocol for sterilization, cleaning and disposal of spirometer constituents that occurs at regular intervals. An antiviral/bacterial filter is used as the main connection between patient and equipment. 70% alcohol mix is used to sterilize surfaces, handled equipment and furniture between patients. Mouthpieces are disposable and will be discarded in hazardous materials collection bins. Patients will be opening their mouthpieces and filters to ensure no cross-contamination and assure peace of mind.
Before spirometry testing, all patients need to undergo covid-19 risk assessment including assessment questionnaire and temperature screening and may be requested to have a Covid-19 test if suspected to display any covid-19 symptoms. No LFT will be permitted to be undertaken on any patients displaying flu-like symptoms as a precaution for Care Net Consultants’ staff and our other patrons. Our customer will be contacted and informed of the need to postpone the test. All devices used for the assessment, particularly the contact pieces, have undergone strict checks and approval processes under required authorities.
Care Net Consultants have taken the necessary research to determine if our Lung Function testing is safe to resume under current Covid-19 conditions and Care Net Consultants will endeavour to ensure that the service is carried out safely, and mitigate any potential risks of cross-contamination. We will be reintroducing lung function testing on a staggered approach to cautiously navigate how the testing will be able to be handled in controlled and select environments, with scope to reintroduce spirometry to mainstream occupational health in the coming months.
Care Net Consultants are a leading Occupational Health Services company, and we are waiting to help you rediscover the complete occupational health solution for your workforce.
We Are Care Net Consultants. Your Partner In Workplace Health.