PPE Shortage Leads to Crisis Standards of Care

73 percent of healthcare facilities have implemented PPE crisis standards of care for respirators

December 8, 2020

MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com

The eruption of COVID-19 cases in March created a host of crises for healthcare facilities, not the least of which was a dire shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks, gowns, gloves and face shields, primarily. Fast forward nine months, and as COVID-19 cases surge again, PPE supply chains still are slow to provide critical PPE to facilities.

A national survey of infection prevention experts by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology found that while healthcare personnel have better access to personal protective equipment (PPE) than they did in the spring, many healthcare facilities have implemented PPE crisis standards of care, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The online survey of 1,083 infection preventionists located in U.S. hospitals and health facilities found that 73 percent of respondents reported that their healthcare facilities have implemented PPE crisis standards of care for respirators, 68.7 percent for masks, and 75.8 percent for face shields or eye protection. This means healthcare personnel are reusing or extending the life of PPE traditionally meant for single use.

For those who reuse respirators or masks, three-quarters of respondents said that their healthcare facilities allow staff to reuse their respirator either five times or as many times as possible before getting a new respirator. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that their facilities allow staff to reuse their masks either five times or as many times as possible before getting a new mask.

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