The term PPE has become so popular today because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in reality, the term PPE has been around for ages and not only in the healthcare industry. PPE is also used in mining, emergency response, military and law enforcement, fire services and even in your common workplace. This is why you will find that the number of PPE types vary between industries. Some articles will write about the 4 types of PPE. Some will say there are 8 types of PPE. Here will talk about 7 types of PPE in the healthcare industry:

Gloves

Gloves cover the hands and wrists, and offer skin protection when exposed to blood, secretions, bodily fluids or excretions and when handling contaminated equipment.

Gloves are the most widely used types of PPE. Healthcare workers routinely use gloves when giving a patient a shot. Gloves protect the patient, as well as the person administering the shot, from spreading germs through open skin.

There are various types of gloves: vinyl, polythene, Latex including DPNRL (De Proteinised Natural Rubber Latex), Nitrile (acrylonitrile) and Neoprene.

In the healthcare setting, Latex or Nitrile gloves are the most commonly used. Latex is more often chosen over Nitrile because of the tighter fit and the ability to provide more effective barrier against microorganisms. They need to be non-powdered and have the lowest level of extractable protein available.

Meanwhile, latex allergies are becoming more common. This is the reason many providers are switching to Nitrile gloves aside from being resistant to punctures.

Gloves cannot be a substitute for good hand hygiene. Gloves should be disposed after usage since they will most likely become contaminated especially when working among different patients and procedures. Most gloves are single-use items and should never be washed or reused.

  • Hands must be decontaminated and dried before wearing gloves. Wounds and cuts must be covered with waterproof dressing.
  • After the gloves are disposed, hands must be washed and cleansed or disinfected with alcohol.
  • Gloves must be disposed immediately after use into the appropriate waste containers .
  • Gloves must be stored in their original packaging on a clean, dry surface or in a wall-mounted unit. Health care workers must not carry gloves inside their pockets.
  • If gloves cause skin irritation, healthcare professionals should seek medical attention.

Limit the potential for “touch contamination” is a significant thing to constrict by unnecessary contact of e.g. your face/environmental surfaces when wearing gloves that may have been contaminated.

Aprons/Gowns

Disposable Plastic Aprons / Gowns are designed to save uniforms / clothing and skin from moisture / soiling during direct patient care. In the majority of cases, plastic aprons will be appropriate for standard precautions. In some cases, where extensive contamination of blood / body fluids is anticipated, e.g. maternity units or when the patient requires a significant amount of direct care with close skin-to-skin contact, a long sleeved fluid repellent gown may be more suitable. Gowns do not need to be sterile unless used for an aseptic procedure such as central line insertion or in an operating room.

  • Aprons/Gowns should be saved in a clean area. Wall-mounted storage units are available for storing PPE and the storage unit should be cleaned regularly.
  • Aprons/Gowns must be changed among patients. They may also need to be changed between different procedures on the same patient.
  • Care should be taken to remove aprons / gowns carefully using ties and taking care not to touch the outer surface. The apron/ gown should be rolled into a ball before disposal into a waste container.
  • Used aprons / gowns should be threw away immediately after use.
  • Hands should always be sanitized after removal of apron/gown and gloves.

Eye protection, visors or full face protection

Eye and face protection must be worn when there is a risk of splash bodily fluids onto mucous membranes e.g. eyes/nose. Eyes can be protected by wearing either goggles or a visor. They cannot be replaced by personal glasses. If reusable eye/face protection is used, it should be decontaminated in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Hands should always be decontaminated after removing the equipment.

Suitable protective eye/face equipment should:

  • Cover the entire face area (e.g. Face shield) if protection of the mouth and nose area is also required.
  • Be changed if visibly soiled.
  • Be removed using the earpiece / headband to avoid contacting potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Be disposed of after use if single-use or placed into a receptacle for reprocessing
  • Be suitable over personal glasses and anti-fog properties should be considered.

Surgical masks (Fluid Repellent)

  • Provide barrier protection to the wearer from any droplets in the area of the wearer’s nose, mouth and respiratory tract. They do not provide protection against aerosolized particles.
  • Should be worn in a specific way (covering nose and mouth) by all surgical team members. If splashes of blood / bodily fluids are anticipated they can be replaced with a full face visor.
  • They should be worn during any surgical procedures as lumbar puncture.
  • Must be submitted with the Medical Devices Directive (MDD 93/42/EEC) and be “CE” marked.
  • Should be single-use and discarded immediately when soiled / following use.
  • Should be stored in their original packaging.
  • Fluid-repellent masks with eye visors attached are also obtainable for use.

FFP3 respirator masks

  • This type of masks is used to protect the wearer from pathogens that can  spread through the airborne route (e.g. Tuberculosis, chickenpox, measles) and when performing aerosol generating procedures on patients with suspected or known influenza or other respiratory tract infections.
  • All healthcare workers that are susceptible to airborne pathogens use a fit-tested FFP3 respirator mask.
  • All healthcare workers receive training on the use of the mask and this is facilitated by the Occupational Health Department.
  • Individuals are responsible for checking the rivet on their own mask before each use.
  • FFP3 respirator masks should be changed after every use or when visibly soiled. They should also be changed if breathing becomes difficult.

Head covers

When hair is tucked inside a head covering, the chances of germ transmission from head to head through droplets are reduced in an obvious way.                                                                                                           

Shoe covers

They are worn when there is a possible exposure to airborne organisms and they also are used for patients with hemorrhagic disease.  

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