Monday, May 17, 2021
The twenty-first-century usage and wear of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a widespread retrospective practice for health and safety concerns. The pressing need for this protective gear has become more and more prevalent due to infection control circumstances surrounding the current global pandemic. Now more than ever before, the public at large understands the criticalness of adequate PPE wear. The donning of such garb is definitely not only for appearance, but also holds an imperative safeguarding function.
If we go back in time, the origin of PPE usage in healthcare facilities and practices traces back at least a century ago or more. The creation of flexible, wearable gloves, cotton facial masks, and eye-protective goggles arrived alongside fresh medical advancements, practices, developments, beliefs, and innovations. The clear-cut birth of personal protective equipment came about from the requirement of better infection control and service care. Within their workplace, healthcare personnel wear this essential equipment daily to reduce their exposure to either infectious materials or hazardous materials.
PPE is more than a means of occupational safety for healthcare workers—it also serves as an infection prevention strategy for patient safety. Modern PPE has become a standard precaution in any clinical environment as the first line of protection. Let’s closely examine the history of this protective equipment, as well as the specifics of how to wear PPE in a hospital.
You can find the deep roots of personal protective equipment within military and occupational settings of ancient times and the middle ages. Since PPE's initial appearance on the occupational scene, its use has been considerably optional for workers worldwide. Within the United States, no mandatory regulations for workers’ protection existed—until the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that is. Commonly known as OSHA, the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 changed history for the better.
This advantageous legislation requires employers in a wide array of workforce industries to comply with standard regulations for enhanced health and safety measures in the workplace. The creation of OSHA harbingered in a completely new era of efforts and practices for worker protection in daily tasks on the job. Within the healthcare realm, the provision and use of PPE are part of these set requirements. OSHA regulations define appropriate equipment and protocols based on one’s job description.
Thanks to OSHA and its strict guidelines for compliance, industries have been responsive to the growing need for worker safety. Advancements and innovations in personal safety equipment are continually ongoing for the sake of today’s workforce, especially in hospitals and medical facilities.
Who needs to wear PPE? The answer to this question may seem like common sense, but the nuances behind the question are much more complex. PPE is special equipment that serves as a barrier between an individual and transmissible germs. To understand its use, all hospital staff members, patients, and visitors should wear proper PPE when dealing directly with blood or other possible bodily fluid contacts. As of late, all individuals within a hospital setting wear a form of PPE when interacting with or caring for another individual.
Standards precautions involving PPE wear always revolve around the concept of perceived risks. Different situations call for different types of PPE. Your facility should use and maintain written instructions about when to use certain types of PPE. Within hospitals, a wide array of workers and patients utilize and wear PPE according to evidence-based guidelines. This factoid emphasizes the importance of staff education and training in PPE wear for adequate understanding and competence about risk assessment.
Knowledgeable comprehension about standard precautions within one’s job position and the selection and use of PPE for the workday is key for effective use. The problem lies within a lack of confidence and mindfulness about how to wear PPE in a hospital. Workers should not utilize PPE or undergo tasks requiring its use until they are aware of correct practices.
A consistent challenge in hospital PPE wear is a lack of consistent or up-to-date training about correct procedures. Standardized group training sessions are ideal for maintaining proper PPE wear in a clinical workplace environment. Otherwise, if someone trains a newcomer—but does so improperly or utilizes dated practices—they can easily pass along incorrect guidelines. Regardless, proper PPE use is still elusive in many hospitals nationwide from mistakes, slip-ups, and even intentional violations. Following established PPE protocols remains arduous in busy, ever-changing environments.
Standard procedures for PPE wear in hospitals include proper dressing and disposal methods to prevent contamination. The sequence for putting on PPE is generally as follows: hand hygiene and decontamination, shoe covers, safety eyewear, if applicable, followed by a mask and gown. Gloves are always the last item to put on before patient care.
The sequence for removing PPE is generally as follows: shoe covers if applicable, gloves and then gown together, hand hygiene and decontamination followed by eyewear and mask removal, and finally, hand washing again immediately after removing all PPE.
Masks have a notable presence these days and involve protective coverage of both one’s nose and mouth. Standard surgical masks are worn over the bridge of the nose and cover the bottom of the chin to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. Other specialty respiratory masks are available for use to protect against more harmful viruses and diseases. Latex, nitrile, or vinyl safety gloves are always worn to reduce the spread of germs, and eye protection options are critical for protecting mucous membranes.
Protective clothing includes scrubs, surgical gowns, coveralls, aprons, isolation gowns, shoe covers, and head coverings to prevent the risk of contamination. Scrubs are worn by doctors and nurses, while surgeons use further protective gear to protect themselves and their patients during surgery. Aprons, gowns, headwear, and footwear are single-use and worn for one procedure of patient care only. Wearers of non-disposable PPE must ensure proper decontamination measures before next use.
For a wide variety of high-quality medical personal protective equipment, turn to a supplier you can trust for your day-to-day operations. Here at American Screening, we carry all kinds of PPE gear to keep you and your fellow healthcare professionals safe and covered from head to toe. As a number one provider, our medical clothing and protective workwear options can suit your personal needs and meet any standard requirements. Contact us with any questions about our medical products, or browse our selection of hospital-grade PPE today.