Last year, the Ebola outbreak heightened awareness surrounding personal protection equipment (PPE). Surgical teams might not have been the ones treating infected patients, but Shelby Marquardt, anesthesiologist and co-founder of Blue Sky Scrubs, said it made teams across healthcare more aware of how to take all apparel on and off.
Marquardt thinks this mass education about infection prevention made surgical teams more apt to let others know if they could be infected, whereas before hierarchy created hesitation.
In addition to hastily educating staff, unprepared facilities rushed to purchase PPE during the outbreak. Today, suppliers suggest facilities develop regular purchasing plans so they are not caught off guard again. “ Hospitals should consider stocking PPE that can be consumed in daily operations, as much as possible, to ensure the stock is consumed on a first in first out (FIFO) basis,” Rosie Squeo, RN, BSN, MA, CWCMS, senior consultant in Clinical Operations at Cardinal Health, said. “For example, hospitals should try not to purchase a unique item that does not have current or alternative use in the facility. This will help eliminate scraping stock due to expiration dates.”
Not only did this outbreak impact behavior, it expectedly impacted PPE. “From an end user perspective, the trends I have observed are the move from latex to non-latex glove materials and more movement to meet professional standards of double gloving,” Pam Werner, MBA, BSN, RN, CNOR, clinical consultant at Ansell, observed. She also noted professional organizations also reiterated the importance of double gloving, such as the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The availability of different styles and thicknesses of non-latex materials makes choosing the proper combination a bit challenging, but the willingness to take that time and work through it ultimately benefits both patients and healthcare workers,” Werner said.
Ebola left its mark on the world by causing more than 28,000 deaths, but also on healthcare worker safety. “Choose PPE that protects against the pathogens you are potentially exposed to, don it properly and doff it just as carefully. Wash your hands when all is said and done,” Werner emphasized.
This article was featured in the November/ December 2015 issue of Surgical Products. To see the complete issue, click HERE.