Written by Steve Hudgik
Medical Personal protective equipment (PPE) may include a face mask, respirator, gloves or clothing that provides a barrier between infectious materials and the skin, mouth, nose, or mucous membranes (eyes).
A key to medical PPE is that it must be used properly. In some cases this may require training in how to use the medical PPE. Improper use or fit can result in the medical PPE not providing the needed protection. During a flu outbreak, government agencies may recommend that you protect yourself from infection by using medical PPE such as face mask, respirator or other type of medical PPE. This type of PPE in particular requires training and a fit test.
How does medical PPE help prevent the spread of infections?
Medical PPE serves as a barrier that can block the spread of infection from blood, body fluids, or respiratory secretions. However, infection control practices, such as hand-washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, isolating sick patients, and using appropriate coughing etiquette, are important parts of infection control that should not be forgotten. The use of medical PPE alone will not fully protect you from infection.
Can medical PPE be re-used?
With a few exceptions, most medical PPE is designed to be used one time. An exception would be protective eye wear. Disposal of medical PPE is critically important. If not disposed of properly, the medical PPE could be the cause of an infection. Follow all directions and training when disposing of medical PPE. Do not try to wash disposable medical PPE. Washing will change the protective qualities of the PPE and it may no longer be effective.
Can medical PPE be shared with others?
No. Most medical PPE is intended to only be used once. If you take it off, then properly dispose of it. More importantly, by sharing medical PPE, you may inadvertently be exposing another person to infectious material.
An N95 respirator has been recommended. Can I use one I purchased at a hardware store?
There are two types of N95 respirators. A surgical N95 respirator gives you the protection of both an N95 respirator and a surgical or procedure mask combined. Although the type of respirator available in a hardware store may be certified as an N95 respirator, it does not include the additional protection of a surgical mask. Also, be aware that you should receive instruction on using an N95 respirator so that you know how to put it on, position it, adjust it and remove it. Fit testing should be done prior to use to ensure a tight fit. Medical PPE is important. Labels and signs can be used to provide important information about the need for, and the use of medical PPE. When labels or signs are needed, choose the reliable, versatile DuraLabel TORO label printer. It not only gets the job done right, making code compliant, durable labels and signs, you can take anywhere it is needed. The DuraLabel TORO is the only standalone four inch label printer you can buy. Call 1-888-326-9244 today and ask about the special DuraLabel TORO kits.