Lost on the Frontline: 12 Months of Trauma-More Than 3,600 US Health Workers Died in Covid’s First Year

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

Above is the title of a 12-month investigation conducted by The Guardian and KHN (Kaiser Health News).  This is a report that should be read/reviewed by everyone – especially health care workers, health care leaders and government leaders.

“Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. health care worker deaths. The federal government has not comprehensively tracked this data. But calls are mounting for the Biden administration to undertake a count as the KHN/Guardian project comes to a close today.  [This study was published April 8, 2021.]

The project, which tracked who died and why, provides a window into the workings — and failings — of the U.S. health system during the covid-19 pandemic. One key finding: Two-thirds of deceased health care workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in America’s health care workforce. Lower-paid workers who handled everyday patient care, including nurses, support staff and nursing home employees, were far more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians were.

The yearlong series of investigative reports found that many of these deaths could have been prevented. Widespread shortages of masks and other personal protective gear, a lack of covid testing, weak contact tracing, inconsistent mask guidance by politicians, missteps by employers and lax enforcement of workplace safety rules by government regulators all contributed to the increased risk faced by health care workers. Studies show that health care workers were more than three times as likely to contract covid as the general public.”

Please also reference and explore The Guardian’s corresponding interactive database

When I hover over my home state of Iowa, I see that there have been 33 HCW deaths here.  Texas has had 349 HCW deaths while Alaska has had 1.  There are additional databases on this website as well as pictures of HCWs that we have lost during this 1st year of the pandemic.  You can also filter by age, occupation, race and state.  There are also links at the top of this website that contain additional resources.

We must address this aspect of the ongoing pandemic, so we learn from it and do better going forward.