The Pennsylvania Medical Society says it will not authorize the use of pipestone in the United States if the country gets hit with a pandemics coronavirus pandemic.
The American College of Physicians has called for all physicians to wear masks at all times, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns people to wear face coverings when outdoors.
In the event that pandemic influenza hits, Pennsylvania doctors said they would require their patients in the community to wear protective masks.
“This is a very dangerous time,” said Dr. John A. Osterholm, chairman of the American College’s Committee on Medical Ethics and Chief of Surgery at Penn-Sciences Medical Center in Philadelphia.
“I cannot imagine that this is the best way to manage an outbreak in which there is a high risk of infection.”
Patients must have a current health care provider’s authorization to use the pipestone, and it is not allowed to be used in situations where there is no doctor or other health care professional present.
In addition, the group said it would not approve the use or sale of pipestones in locations where people are at risk of spreading the virus.
“Patients should have access to the appropriate protection and we will not permit the use, sale, or distribution of pipework or other materials for this purpose,” the group wrote in a statement.
“While the group does not want to be part of a chain reaction, we are committed to protecting our members from pandemic-related risks, such as those associated with the pandemic,” it added.
Pennsylvania doctors said their stance is based on what they believe is best for their patients.
“Our position is based entirely on science,” said Osterlund.
“The scientific community has made it abundantly clear that there is very little evidence that this material, especially when it comes to pandemic material, has the ability to provide protection against pandemic transmission.”
He said that the medical community has not been overly concerned about the safety of the material.
“In our experience, our patients and our patients’ families have been very positive about the material, and our safety has been very good,” he said.
“What is the point of having this material in a pandemonic environment?”
Osterholm said he is not opposed to the use and sale of some materials, such a mask, in certain situations.
But he believes that the pipestones are dangerous and could cause injury to people who wear them.
“I do not want them to be the first thing people put on, so I think it’s the best approach for everyone,” he added.
“The way we look at this is not based on the safety concerns,” he continued.
“Our position has always been that if we have to use a material, we will.”
Osterlund said he would like to see a law passed requiring doctors to wear a face shield while using pipestone.
He said he hopes his group’s stance will help convince lawmakers to do the right thing and pass such a law.
“There’s a lot of pressure on doctors and hospitals to get pipestone into the public,” he explained.
“There’s no doubt that pipestone is a hazard to the public, and that it should be used very, very, carefully.”
Oberst said he was encouraged by the reaction of some physicians who have been speaking out against the pipstone.
“It’s a very positive response,” he commented.
“We need to continue to educate physicians on how pipestone works, how it’s dangerous and how it should not be used.”