A systematic risk-based strategy to select personal protective equipment for infectious diseases
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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a primary strategy to protect health care personnel (HCP) from infectious diseases. When transmission-based PPE ensembles are not appropriate, HCP must recognize the transmission pathway of the disease and anticipate the exposures to select PPE. Because guidance for this process is extremely limited, we proposed a systematic, risk-based approach to the selection and evaluation of PPE ensembles to protect HCP against infectious diseases.
The approach used in this study included the following 4 steps: (1) job hazard analysis, (2) infectious disease hazard analysis, (3) selection of PPE, and (4) evaluation of selected PPE. Selected PPE should protect HCP from exposure, be usable by HCP, and fit for purpose.
The approach was demonstrated for the activity of intubation of a patient with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. As expected, the approach led to the selection of different ensembles of PPE for these 2 pathogens.
A systematic risk-based approach to the selection of PPE will help health care facilities and HCP select PPE when transmission-based precautions are not appropriate. Owing to the complexity of PPE ensemble selection and evaluation, a team with expertise in infectious diseases, occupational health, the health care activity, and related disciplines, such as human factors, should be engaged.
Participation, documentation, and transparency are necessary to ensure the decisions can be communicated, critiqued, and understood by HCP.