A recent article in Outpatient Surgery reveals the fact that many facilities are facing a new crisis of PPE shortages. The article goes on to say that “Many facilities are operating under PPE crisis standards of care says the survey, which the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) conducted from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5. Facilities are attempting to compensate for short supplies by reusing or extending the life of single-use PPE.”¹ It is a disappointing fact of life that most facilities have policies in place to reuse single-use PPE where possible.
Are certain PPE approved to be reused? That raises an important question and one which poses a dilemma for many Infection Control Professionals throughout the country. Certain products that are reused pose a potential hazard to the user and it’s important that as healthcare providers you understand and balance those risks. These devices are meant to protect those of you who are on the frontlines of the pandemic battle. If your armor is defective, you risk infecting yourself and those you interface with professionally and personally.
Even though the following information is from an article that came out this summer, it is interesting to see widespread results on PPE reuse. An ANA survey was conducted in mid-summer, representing 21,503 nurses’ responses on PPE availability, reuse and contamination practices. Cases have accelerated since then and shortages and risks have persisted and increased. The following graphic and quote are from this article.
“Among those who reused N95s, 62% reported that they felt very or somewhat unsafe. The ANA found that nurses often reuse masks, with 58% reporting that they reused an N95 mask for 5 days or more, and 14% reporting that they reused them for more than 2 weeks. Among the participants, 38% indicated that their facilities were decontaminating N95s, and 41% said that their facilities were not. Of those who said their facilities were decontaminating, 55% reported that the practice made them feel somewhat or very unsafe.” ²
For those healthcare personnel faced with this dilemma, face shields are an important consideration and option. The Visiguard® Face Shield offers protection and comfort in a product that is approved to be reused, including instructions for cleaning and disinfection. It is important to note that the Visiguard® Face Shield has no foam or fabric to harbor bacteria and also features ventilation cones which reduce fogging and also provide space for eyewear and N95 masks. When faced with the reuse of a product that is personally responsible for saving your life, you need back-up armor. Consider using a face shield over your basic and reused PPE for better protection. It is a low cost, comfortable device which helps you to connect with others while giving you the security you deserve.
¹ Joe Paone, APIC Survey Reveals Depth of PPE Shortages, 12/09/2020, www.outpatientsurgery.net
² Erin Michael, Survey: PPE shortages continue for many nurses, 09/02/2020, www.helio.com