Joint Commission Supports the Use of Facemasks Brought from Home Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On today, the Joint Commission issued a statement supporting the use of personal facemasks and/or N95 respirators when healthcare organizations cannot provide healthcare workers access to protective equipment “that is commensurate with the risk health care workers are exposed to amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” As the nation’s oldest and largest accrediting body in healthcare, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

In its press release, the Joint Commission stated that it is “painfully aware” of the shortage of PPE, ventilators, and testing swab kits at hospital across the country. The Joint Commission also stated that its standards do not prohibit staff from using PPE provided from home and that “homemade masks are an extreme measure and should be used only when standard PPE of proven protective value is available.” This Statement was released days after an emergency room physician stated that he was fired after speaking out about lack of COVID-19 protections at his workplace and a nurse in Illinois filed a lawsuit claiming that she was fired for informing coworkers that the Particulate Respirator N95 masks are more effective than the facemasks provided by her employer.

Hahnah Williams is an attorney, registered nurse, and advocate who represents healthcare professionals in professional license, criminal, and business matters at Hahnah Williams, Attorney at Law, P.C.