Personal Protective Equipment

The Role of Personal Protective Equipment in Infection Prevention History

October 17, 2016

As personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to play an integral role in prevention of transmission of infection in the healthcare setting, we discover by looking back at the history of protection of healthcare workers (HCWs) and prevention of spread of infection, that the concept is several centuries old.

Using Institutional Controls to Improve PPE Compliance

August 24, 2016

According to 2014 occupational incident surveillance data from nearly 30 U.S. hospitals, when an employee experiences a splash or splatter of blood or body fluid (e.g. blood or bloody urine) into the eye they are only wearing eye-appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) 3.5 percent of the time. These mucotaneous exposures are extremely high risk. Just as the eyes are the windows to the soul, they are the frontlines for risk of disease transmission from patient to worker. If we experience fatigue, allergies, irritation, or infection our eyes become even more susceptible to microorganisms that come into contact with them.

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.

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