Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) are protective gears designed to safeguard the health of workers by minimizing the exposure to a biological agent / infection.
Components of PPE:-
2) Face Shield
5) Coverall Gowns
6) Head Cover
7) Shoes Cover
Face shield and Goggles:-
Contamination of mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth is likely in a scenario of droplets generated by cough, sneeze of an infected person, or during aerosol-generating procedures carried out in a clinical setting.
Inadvertently touching the eyes/nose/mouth with a contaminated hand is another likely scenario. Hence protection of the mucous membranes of the eyes/nose/mouth by using face shields/ goggles is an integral part of standard and contact precautions.
The flexible frame of goggles should provide a good seal with the skin of the face, covering the eyes and the surrounding areas and even accommodating for prescription glasses.
Respiratory viruses that include Coronaviruses target mainly the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Hence protecting the airway from the particulate matter generated by droplets/aerosols prevents human infection.
Contamination of mucous membranes of the mouth and nose by infective droplets or through a contaminated hand also allows the virus to enter the host. Hence the droplet precautions/airborne precautions using masks are crucial while dealing with a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19/performing aerosol-generating procedures.
Masks are of different types. The type of mask to be used is related to the particular risk profile of the category of personnel and his/her work.
There are two types of masks which are recommended for various categories of personnel working in hospital or community settings, depending upon the work environment:
- Triple-layer medical mask
- N-95 Respirator mask
When a person touches an object/surface contaminated by an infected person and then touches his own eyes, nose, or mouth, he may get exposed to the virus. Although this is not thought to be a predominant mode of transmission, care should be exercised while handling objects/surfaces potentially contaminated by suspect/confirmed cases.
Nitrile gloves are preferred over latex gloves because they resist chemicals, including certain disinfectants such as chlorine. There is a high rate of allergies to latex and contact allergic dermatitis among health workers. However, if nitrile gloves are not available, latex gloves can be used.
Non powdered gloves are preferred to powdered gloves.
Coverall/gowns are designed to protect the torso of healthcare providers from exposure to viruses. Although coveralls typically provide 360-degree protection because they are designed to cover the whole body, including back and lower legs and sometimes head and feet as well, the design of medical/isolation gowns do not provide continuous whole-body protection (e.g., possible openings in the back, coverage to the mid-calf only).
By using appropriate protective clothing, it is possible to create a barrier to eliminate or reduce contact and droplet exposure, both known to transmit the virus, thus protecting healthcare workers working in close proximity (within 1 meter) of suspect/confirmed infective cases or their secretions.
Coveralls and gowns are deemed equally acceptable as there is a lack of comparative evidence to show whether one is more effective than the other in reducing transmission to health workers. Gowns are considerably easier to put on and for removal. An apron can also be worn over the gown for the entire time the health worker is in the treatment area.
Coveralls/gowns have stringent standards that extend from preventing exposure to biologically contaminated solid particles to protecting from chemical hazards.
Shoe covers should be made up of impermeable fabric to be used overshoes to facilitate personal protection and decontamination.
Coveralls usually cover the head. Those using gowns should use a headcover that covers the head and neck while providing clinical care for patients. Hair and hair extensions should fit inside the headcover.