The importance of PPE kits and its benefits
The world is suffering from the Coronavirus pandemic and our healthcare workers are giving their best in taking care of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infected people by risking their own lives. It is very important for the healthcare personnel to adhere to the safety guidelines in order to prevent the transmission of the virus while taking care of these patients and using PPE kits for them is really necessary. These people working for and around infected patients are at higher risks of coming in contact with the virus and hence, they need to make sure that they take proper precautions to keep themselves safe.
What is PPE?
Personal Protective Equipment prevents any virus or infectious body from coming in contact with the human body. It acts as a barrier in blocking the transmission of infectious agents or bodies from blood, body fluids, or respiratory secretions.
A medical PPE generally includes face masks, respirators, bouffant caps, protective gowns, isolation gowns, aprons, gloves, shoe covers, eye protection, face shields, and goggles. These equipment are to cover every exposed part of the body from the head to toe and act as a shield from coming in contact with the virus.
- Masks and Respirators
Masks and respirators help in protecting the nose and mouth from the spread of contaminants through the air into them by filtering the air that is inhaled. There are experts recommended respirators that are fully reliable and the PPE kits include only that. Most of these are disposable such as N95, Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) respirators. The N95 respirator has been clinically approved by the NIOSH and is capable of filtering about 95% of the airborne particles.
And the types of masks that are advised to be used are surgical masks, masks with valves, and fabric or cloth masks. Surgical masks have been approved by the FDA after it has been clinically tested but they are supposed to be disposed off after it has been used once while dealing with a patient.
- Protective and isolation gowns
Gowns help in preventing the clothes from coming in contact with any infectious agent. The gown should be long enough to cover the full torso and arms till the wrists. Isolation gowns are said to have four layers of protection which ensures protection. Some clinically recommended gowns are disposable gowns, reusable gowns, and especially gowns that are fluid resistant and sterile.
- Shoe covers and caps
They prevent the possible contamination of infected body fluids through exposure. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently added protective shoe covers to be a part of PPE in its latest guidelines.
- Other shields and eye protection
They help in protecting the face and the sense organs from being a path for any virus or harmful agent to enter the body. Experts recommend that a face shield should be worn with an N95 respirator for effective use. Eye protections are also very necessary and are advised because it is shown that these eye wears reduce the risk of spread of infection inside the body through the eyes by 6-16%.
Gloves can help while directly handling infected material and reduce the chances to get infected through a thick layer. For ensured protection, Vinyl, Latex, or Nitrile gloves are known to be the most effective ones. These gloves are asked to be worn as a part of standard precautions. But one important point to remember is that they must be changed when they turn visibly solid and become hard to work with.
Anyone using the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)must keep in mind that most of these components are meant for one-time use only and after that, they should be carefully disposed of or discarded so that if it is contaminated, it doesn’t spread or transmitted through the kit.
Advantages of PPE
- Wearing or using a PPE protects from being exposed to any infectious agent and reduces the chances of their transmission or spread. This is why healthcare personnel rely upon these equipment while taking care of the infected patients.
- By any chance any harmful bacteria or germs happen to occur, PPE minimizes the risk of getting in contact with them raw.
- PPE prevents the spreading of virus from one body to another body through any contact if it is used with proper guidelines.
- Not only the health care professionals working with COVID patients make use of PPE but other field specialists also commit to PPE for safety. Doctors with other patients too opt to wear PPE for minimizing every possible chance of getting infected through an oblivious infected person. Face shields and gloves are seen being worn by supermarket workers as well as employees in business buildings which are known to be far more protective than masks since the area around the mouth is completely protected by a thick plastic. Moreover, no breathing issues are found since it gives enough space for the nose to breathe effortlessly.
Although PPE kits have become a necessity for the lives of our doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and other people on front line duty taking care of the infected ones; their supplies and availability are very less while the demand remains high in this emergency situation. Many places are facing a shortage of these supplies thus, risking the lives of those striving to save other lives. Hence, it is directed that respirators like N95, gowns, eye protection as well as surgical masks should mainly be used by the ones taking care of the patients or the ones working in the field of risk. It is made sure that the supplies are available to these people first and anyone should not unnecessarily buy it. Others can opt to use cotton masks or other recommended masks. During this hour of need, we should strictly follow the guidelines given so that we can together responsibly be a support to our healthcare personnel.