Everything you need to know about PPE for caregivers

Working as a caregiver? Need more information about PPE for caregivers? many other questions you want to ask about PPE? let’s start and provide you with the best guide on this topic!

In fact, there are no more important times than nowadays to understand and know about PPEs. 

With the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it became very clear to everyone that infections can spread as easily as touching your own hand. 

The bad news is, it’s not just Viruses like COVID-19 that can spread easily, bacteria can play that game!

Infections can be transmitted through touching contaminated surfaces, skin, and even using your dirty hand on your face and nose. 

Sometimes it’s through air droplets caused by Sneezing and coughing hence, viruses and bacteria can easily enter our body and bloodstream through your skin, eyes, nose, mouth, wounds, bites…etc.

The good news is, that infection control practices are there to save the day!
simple and easy measures like washing hands, using sanitizers, following certain instructions, and wearing A PPE!

So, what is A “PPE.”? Why is it so important? and how to use them properly? Here’s everything you need to know about PPE!

First things first,

What does PPE stand for?

PPE Stands for Personal protective equipment.

According to FDA, PPE is designed to create a non-disease-specific barrier to penetration of substances, solid, liquid, or airborne particles.

So, it simply provides a barrier that minimizes infections and harm to our bodies!

Protective equipment was not made only for healthcare professionals, but for anyone who offers caregiving service whether it’s a professional service or an individual who cares for their loved ones at home!

Also, it’s important for caregivers to use PPE to protect themselves and those whom they care for!

In fact, PPE is also essential in some industries where protection against chemicals radiological, electrical materials, and other workplace hazards is a must

Long story short, it’s not just healthcare professionals who should use personal protective equipment, …anyone who might be susceptible to an infection or an injury during offering care or in a workplace… should totally consider a PPE.

Indeed, they’re designed to be used by a single person that’s why it’s called PERSONAL.

Although, they’re also designed to be used once but there are certain types that can be cleaned and reused for example some types of respirator masks and protective eyewear such as goggles

Not all types are washable because washing a PPE may change its protection capabilities and it may not be effective anymore.

So, make sure you know which one can be washed and reused.

What are the types of PPE?

According to the FDA, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, respirators, or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or infection, or illness.

PPE isn’t just one item, there are many forms and sizes and types. Now, let’s get to know them! They differ according to their functions.

  • PPE is used for Hand Protection (Gloves)

It’s used to prevent injuries that needles and infections may cause through blood or body fluids.

Moreover, it’s recommended to use them not only caring for patients but also during the disposal of the material and objects you used while caring for the patient.

Why?

In order to prevent cross-contamination and during decontaminating the surfaces exposed to these materials moreover, it’s also a good idea to use them while doing laundry for an infected person.

  • PPE is used for Body Protection

They include gowns, overheads (Head coverings), and Overshoes (Shoes Covering).

Why? 

In fact, it is used to minimize the exposure of our skin and body to droplets and particles, and stop the transfer of the contaminants between patients and each other and patients and caregivers, and the surrounding environment as well.

Moreover, it’s very important, especially in places where contamination is risky for patients, in Intensive care unit as an example.

  • PPE is used for face protection

Examples: N95 respirators and surgical masks

What is the function of these items?

It is used to protect the nose and mouth from contaminated liquid droplets or particles and airborne particles

Surgical masks are made from different materials and different thicknesses that provide adequate protection against liquid particles

N-95 Respirators provide respiratory protection against airborne particles Which are smaller than liquid and splashes particles

Facemasks and cloth masks are not PPE!

With the shortage of personal protective equipment, people shifted to Cloth face masks, but truth is, they are not considered a PPE! According to CDC, they may or may not meet any fluid barrier or filtration efficiency levels and they don’t provide the protection as the surgical masks or the N95 respirators.

They are used for people who are not in an infectious environment. But not definitely for caregivers! 

  • PPE used for Eyes Protection

PPE used commonly includes face shields and goggles.

In fact, some infections can be transmitted through contact of particles with the eye tissue, some chemicals can permanently damage the eyes.

Therefore, it’s advised to use eye protection if performing a procedure that includes splashes of blood, body fluids or splashes of liquid particles and when handling chemical materials specially for those who work in chemical labs 

By now you must be asking yourself ” Which one should I use?” 

What type of PPE do I need?

Well, it depends on the kind of work you do and how this work can cause you harm or infection!

Surely a person who handles chemicals doesn’t necessarily wear the same type of equipment a doctor must wear in the surgery room!

In fact, engineers on construction sites do not wear an overhead unless it’s called a helmet! You should wear Boots and closed-toe work shoes in places where you may encounter harmful chemicals or when cleaning a contaminated area

Masks are essential in all processes that involve exposure to air droplets that might contain bacteria or viruses. performing some procedures like intubation Or performing CPR is a process where the doctor must wear a mask!

People with a weak immune system or health problems that might be contagious are advised to wear a face mask 

Masks are a crucial part of our lives now anyways! Hello, it’s pandemic O’clock!

So, it all depends on the job you do, and the source of contamination

Assessing the need to use a PPE for professionals is hospital policy and workplace specifications and training are required and staff must show competency to use PPE

By now I think you may have the right idea on how to select the right PPE you need!

But have you wondered how to use them properly?

How to put it on & off? (Donning and Doffing PPE)

You might ask yourself why? Would it matter if I wear them in a different way!

Absolutely!

It’s very critical because using them the wrong way or not knowing the instructions and not following the right steps could lead to infection instead of preventing it 

  • What’s donning and doffing of PPE?

The term used for Putting on and taking off PPE. It’s very crucial to understand how to put your PPE on and how to take them off properly

PPE Must be worn properly before entering the patient’s room & worn the entire time when you’re performing a procedure or a task with the patient

According to the CDC, ” More than one donning method may be acceptable.” Also, the sequence of putting them on and off is important

Donning begins with putting on the gown then the mask and goggles and finally the gloves!

There’s a number of instructions to be followed according to the CDC here’s how to put on your PPE; let’s start!

  1. Putting on a gown 

  • The gown should cover the whole body from neck to knee and that include the arms to the end of wrists and be wrapped around the back 
  • It fastens around the neck and back through straps or ties, make sure it is fastened on both sites
  • You can use help from another person
  1. Putting on a mask or respirator

  • Secure the upper strap or elastic band on the top of your head and the bottom one at the base of your neck, if the mask has loops, they should be secured properly around the ears 
  • Do not crisscross the strap
  • hold the upper part of the face mask/ Cup the respirator in your hand
  • The flexible band over the top “Nosepiece” should be fit to the nose bridge “not too tight nor too loose” with both hands 
  • It should fit around the mouth and nose and below the chin to cover the entire lower part of your face
  • Do not pinch it with just one hand
  • Place your fingertips from both hands at the top of the metal nose clip or nose piece and slide them down both sides of the metal strip/nosepiece to mold the nose area to the shape of your nose
  • In case of respirator: Place both hands over the respirator, take a quick breath in to check the seal, breath out (It’s not properly sealed if you feel a leak breathing in and out) If air leaks in or out, try a different size or model
  • Once you fit the mask/respirator you should avoid touching it as much as you can
  • If you must adjust the mask you have to clean your hand after and before 
  • Do not use a respirator that appears damaged or deformed or no longer forms an effective seal to the face, becomes wet or visibly dirty, or if breathing becomes difficult.
  • Do not allow facial hair, jewelry, glasses, clothing, or anything else to prevent proper placement or to come between your face and the respirator or mask
  1. Putting on a face shield or goggles

  • Choose the proper eye protection to ensure it doesn’t interfere with or affect the seal of the mask.
  • Adjust the shield to fit around the head covering the eyes, nose and mouth in case of face shield and only covering the eyes and fit over the nose bridge in case of a goggle
  • Goggles can cause some fogging
  1. Putting on gloves

  • Understanding which type of glove you need for the intended purpose is important!
  • Mainly sterile gloves are used in surgeries and procedures that involve wounds 
  • Make sure you select the right sized gloved, too tight gloves could be torn causing contamination, and too large could easily slip out of your hand
  • Gloves should be extended to cover the entire waist of the gown.
  • If the glove happens to have a tear or it becomes heavily contaminated or dirty you will have to change into a new one following the same steps above while washing your hand properly in the changing process
  • Don’t touch other surfaces with your contaminated glove to avoid cross-contamination

So, this is how to put on your PPE.

Remember, the sequence matters  and you should make sure they fit and they’re donned the right way so you don’t need to adjust them during patient care

Now it’s time to leave and take them all off, wait a minute do I take them off suddenly with no certain sequence? 

Well, you must have guessed by now the answer is no!

The correct sequence for doffing your PPE is as follows;

  1. Take your glove off first
  2. Take your gown off
  3. use a hand sanitizer or wash your hand properly 
  4. take off the goggles or face shield 
  5. The last thing to do is to take the mask off and nowadays, it’s better to keep it on as long as you are around people

But wait, how do I take them off and what are the precautions I should take while doing so?

There are a number of instructions to be followed according to CDC here’s how to doff your PPE; let’s start!

1. Taking off a Glove

Well taking the gloves off maybe the most complicated process of them all but following the steps, it’s easier than it sounds and more important than anything else to prevent self-contamination and make sure not to touch the external part of the glove or the gown in the process.

The Glove in glove technique: 

  • Using one gloved hand, grasp the palm area of the other gloved hand and start peeling it off without touching your forearms
  • Keep the glove you just took off in your gloved hand
  • Slide a finger or two of your glove free hand carefully under the second glove at the wrist area and take it off over the first glove so they can form a ball 
  • Dispose of the balled gloves

The beaking (beak bird method):

  • Pinch the outside of the glove near the wrist using one finger of the gloved hand and pull it out around the thumb and fingers to form a beak
  • With the beaked hand, pinch the outside part of the other glove at the wrist and pull outward pulling the glove inside out
  • Dispose of the first glove
  • With the hand free glove pull the beaked glove by touching only the inside part then take it off
  • Dispose of the glove

2. Taking off A Gown

  • Do not touch the front part of the gown
  • First, unfasten the straps around the neck and waist while making sure your hands don’t touch your body reaching behind
  • Pull the gown away from your neck and shoulder while making sure it doesn’t touch your skin or clothes
  • Some straps can be broken instead of unfastened 
  • You can touch the inside of the gown while Turn the gown inside out and roll it or fold it into a bundle and discard it in the specific place for it

3. Taking of a goggle or a face shield 

  • The goggles and face shield should be removed only from the back.
  • Make sure you don’t touch the side of the front of them as they’re contaminated
  • Pull it up and away from your face 
  • Discard them in the waste container unless they’re reusable, then you will need to put them carefully in the designed place for the decontamination process 

4. Taking off a Mask or respirator


Respirator:

  • Remove the bottom strap by touching only the strap and bring it carefully over the head.
  • Grasp the top strap and bring it carefully over the head
  • Pull the respirator away from the face without touching the front of the respirator.

Facemask: 

  • Carefully untie (or unhook from the ears) and pull away from the face without touching the front

Some important instructions for both the face mask and respirators:

  • Avoid touching the frontal part of the mask, it’s contaminated!
  • Do not wear the mask under your mouth or nose!
  • Try to tie the mask’s straps to fit perfectly onto your face
  • Don’t slide the mask around the neck or over your head
  • Don’t wear it around your arms! 
  • Don’t wear it under the nose or mouth!
  • Do not keep it in your pocket.
  • If there’s a shortage and you need to re-use the mask, a face mask should be carefully folded so that the outer surface is held inward against itself to reduce contact with the outer surface during storing it in a sealed clean bag or container

The last step in the process after doffing PPE is to wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Voila, you’re all done and good to go now.

In conclusions,

There’s a certain sequence to donning and doffing your PPE, make sure you know and follow these steps.

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