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To Use and Reuse? - PPE During COVID-19

06.25.2020 • Industry News

It’s not news that the personal protective equipment (PPE) availability for hospitals has been affected by the global pandemic of COVID-19. The need for products such as face masks, face shields, barrier gowns, and gloves, designed specifically for use in hospitals to protect healthcare workers and patients from spreading and contracting the virus, grew faster than they could be kept in inventory. What IS news is that due to this continued shortage of PPE, healthcare professionals began to re-use their masks and shields as a means to the alternative – nothing at all.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 patients have had to implement processes to try to optimize their PPE supply which unfortunately means extended use, reuse, and even reprocessing of these single-use products. In addition to standard face masks, shields, eye protection there of course are more specialized PPE options such as the N95 mask. Brandon VanHee, Clinical Education Manager speaks about the N95 mask in a recent news post and answers common questions surrounding reuse and reprocessing. As not every facility was able to even obtain a stock of N95 masks, the questions still remain surrounding standard eye protection. Understanding the dynamics of the situation and the recommendation from the CDC on PPE use is critical when facilities are considering what is the best direction to take. To use and reuse? Prior to COVID-19, this wasn’t an even a question.

So the answer? It depends. The CDC recommends that “…all US facilities consider allowing HCP to extend the use of respirators, facemasks, and eye protection beyond a single patient contact.” Arguably extending the use of PPE beyond a single patient is a far cry from using them for days on end. So then where does a facility draw the line? 5 patients? 20 patients? How is this being tracked and how are these being cleaned? Can you effectively reprocess facemasks? If so, what are the parameters? So many questions and to that end the CDC also provides some specific contingency strategies for eye protection but is clear in their recommendation that, “As PPE becomes available, healthcare facilities should promptly resume standard practices.”

Every healthcare facility is making tough choices right now. Balancing supply availability, patient safety, and staff safety. Knowing best practices and keeping an eye on available critical PPE from your vendor partner(s), such as Key Surgical, is critical while making these important decisions.

Face masks and face shields are currently available from Key Surgical and are ready to ship out to you today. Please visit: https://www.keysurgical.com/products/sterile-processing/personal-protective-equipment for ordering information.