Incorrect removal of PPE causes problems for healthcare workers
Workers in the health profession are placing themselves at risk of infection as they fail to remove Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) correctly.
A study that recently appeared in the American Journal of Infection Control suggests that more than half of the healthcare workers removed PPE incorrectly. During the study, 30 workers were observed removing their PPE by researchers at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. Just 43% of staff removed items in the order they are supposed to, while only 17% removed the PPE correctly and also used the correct disposal methods.
The correct order of removal for PPE is gloves first before any face shield or goggles. The gown should be removed next and then the respirator or mask. According to guidelines produced by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, PPE should also be removed in the doorway of the patient's room or an anteroom, although the respirator should be removed after leaving the patient's room.
The study found that there are many factors that could influence the incorrect removal of PPE. One of the reasons was:
“A lack of awareness of the proper protocol, time constraints or lack of realization of the importance of proper PPE removal.”
As a result of the study, researchers have suggested that the putting on and taking off of PPE is given priority, and education is provided by facilities as necessary.
Health and Safety guidelines include the wearing of special workwear and PPE in some environments to prevent accidents or fatal injury, but removal is also important to keep workers safe.