Personal Protective Equipment

The 'Suboptimal' State of Proper PPE Removal and What's Being Done to Fix It

July 11, 2016

With the Ebola crisis in the rearview mirror but lurking, cases of C. difficile on the rise, and other known and emerging viruses creeping across the globe, health leaders are focusing greater attention on protecting the people on the front lines of care. The proper removal of personal protective equipment (PPE) – think masks, gloves and gowns – ranks among the most critical of those topics and it’s one infection preventionists should address with physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel sooner rather than later. The need is pressing. Recall that Ebola infected more than 500 health workers in West Africa in 2014. Meanwhile, other professionals have contracted C. diff and MERS. Experts have not been able to irrefutably link those occurrences to improper PPE removal; however, they have enough experience to posit with authority that poor technique has played a role in at least some of the diagnoses. The reason is simple: Too few healthcare workers take off their PPE in such a way that does not pollute their clothing or skin. To wit, a recent study published by JAMA Internal Medicine showed that 46 percent of doffing simulations engendered some level of contamination.

Breaking Barriers: Compliance with Standard Precautions, PPE Needs Improvement

June 7, 2016

Fewer than one-fifth of ambulatory-care nurses surveyed in a recent study reported compliance with all nine components of Standard Precautions, indicating a continuing need for identifying barriers to compliance and emphasizing patient and healthcare personnel safety.  As Powers, et al. (2016) emphasize, "Exposure to blood and bodily fluids represents a significant occupational risk for nurses. The most effective means of preventing bloodborne pathogen transmission is through adherence to Standard Precautions (SP). Despite published guidelines on infection control and negative health consequences of noncompliance, significant issues remain around compliance with SP to protect nurses from bloodborne infectious diseases, including hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV."

Reusables, Disposables Each Play a Role in Preventing Cross-Contamination

April 19, 2016

Healthcare institutions face the question of whether to use disposable or reusable medical devices. Although in certain situations one category is clearly a better choice than the other, choosing between disposable products and reusable devices is more frequently a difficult and unclear decision. Both devices are characterized by compelling pros and cons that may force healthcare facilities into a complex and multi-faceted decision-making process.