Emergency Rule on Mandatory Use of Face Masks
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) released a pair of emergency rules (59ER23-01 and 59ER23-2) on July 3, 2023, laying out the dos and donts of when facial coverings can be required in health care settings and opt-out requirements that must be offered.
Policy Interpretation and Implementation
Patients can only be required to wear masks if they are in common areas of the health care setting and are exhibiting signs or symptoms or have been diagnosed with an infectious disease that can be spread through droplet or airborne transmission.
Visitors can also be required to wear a mask if:
They are exhibiting signs or symptoms of or has a diagnosed infectious disease that can spread through droplet or airborne transmission
They are headed to a sterile area of a facility
They are coming to see a patient who is exhibiting signs or symptoms of or has been diagnosed with an infectious disease or has a condition affecting their underlying immune system.
They are visiting a patient whose treating health care practitioner has diagnosed the patient with or confirmed a condition affecting the immune system which is known to increase risk of infection from visitors without signs or symptoms of infection to a patient and whose treating practitioner has determined the use of facial coverings is necessary for the patient’s safety.
Health care providers and practitioners who require masks must offer patients, visitors, and employees an “opt-out.”
The opt-out policy provisions for patients, for instance, must be in accordance with what’s known as the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Social Distancing or outside visitation are an examples of an opt-out for those visitors who choose not to where a mask.
Employees may “opt-out” from mask wearing unless an employee is:
They are conducting sterile procedures
Working in a sterile area
Working with a patient with a compromised immune system or working with a patient whose treating practitioner has determined the use of a mask necessary for the patient’s safety because the patient is deemed at risk of transmission of an infection from asymptomatic employees.
With a patient on droplet or airborne isolation
Engaging in non-clinical potentially hazardous activities that require facial coverings to prevent physical injury or harm in accordance with industry standards