- PPE refers to personal protective equipment
- PPE is used to prevent the healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19
- PPE is chosen according to the risk of exposure
New Delhi: Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to a variety of barriers, used to protect mucous membranes, airways, skin and clothing from contact with infectious agents. PPE are being used to help protect the frontline healthcare workers from contracting the novel coronavirus across the globe. A COVID-19 PPE kit ideally includes gloves, laboratory coats, gowns, goggles, glasses with side shields, shoe covers, face shields and masks, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.
Selection of PPE for different healthcare professionals is based on the kind of interaction they have with the patients. PPE also protects patients from exposure to infectious agents in the surrounding environment carried by healthcare workers.
The ICMR says that the selection of protective equipment, from the above mentioned articles, must be based on assessment of the risk of transmission of infection. This applies to the patient as well as the healthcare worker.
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ICMR also says that the PPE should be worn in a protected environment and not be worn outside that area, which in the case of Coronavirus applies to the isolation wards and ICU where the patients in the severe conditions are being looked after.
Protective clothing provided for staff in areas where there is high risk of contamination must be removed before leaving the area. Even where there is a lower risk of contamination, clothing that has been in contact with patients should not be worn outside the patient-care area. Inappropriate wearing of PPE, like wearing operating suite/room attire in the public areas of a hospital or wearing such attire outside the facility, may also lead to a public perception of poor practice within the facility, guides the ICMR.
It further says that PPE also helps in protecting other patients of staff, from contamination. But adds that the PPE reduces but does not completely eliminate the risk of acquiring an infection,
It is important that PPE is used effectively, correctly, and at all times where contact with blood and body fluids of patients may occur. Continuous availability of personal protective equipment and adequate training for its proper use are essential. Staff must also be aware that use of personal protective equipment does not replace the need to follow basic infection control measures such as hand hygiene.
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Do’s and Don’ts of PPE for Healthcare Workers As Per ICMR
- As mentioned above, PPE is chosen according to the risk of exposure. The health care worker should assess whether they are at risk of exposure to blood, body fluids, excretions or secretions and choose their items of personal protective equipment according to this risk.
- Avoid any contact between contaminated or used personal protective equipment and surfaces, clothing or people outside the patient care area.
- Discard the used personal protective equipment in appropriate disposal bags, and dispose off as per the policy of the hospital.
- Do not share personal protective equipment.
- Change personal protective equipment completely and thoroughly wash hands each time you leave a patient to attend to another patient or another duty.