Long-term care workers can be exposed to dangerous bodily fluids capable of transmitting life-threatening pathogens, such as COVID-19 and C. Diff. This risks the health and safety of residents and employees. Protective clothing (e.g. isolation gowns, bouffant caps and shoe covers) are essential for keeping workers and those they serve safe. But, choosing the right protective clothing is important. For instance, a common misunderstanding among users is that they are protected from blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials when they wear any type of fluid-resistant garment. The following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help when choosing protective clothing.
Tips before buying
- The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association of the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI): ANSI/AAMI PB70:2012 describe the liquid barrier performance and classification of surgical and isolation gowns for use in healthcare facilities.
- As with any type of PPE, the key to proper selection and use of protective clothing is to understand the hazards and the risk of exposure. Some of the factors important to assessing the risk of exposure in healthcare facilities include source, modes of transmission, pressures and types of contact, and duration and type of tasks to be performed by the PPE user.
- For gowns, it is important to have sufficient overlap of the fabric so that it wraps around the body to cover the back (ensuring that if the wearer squats or sits down, the gown still protects the back area of the body).
- Nonsterile, disposable patient isolation gowns, which are used for routine patient care in healthcare settings, are appropriate for use by patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
What’s your risk?
- Certain areas of surgical and isolation gowns are defined as “critical zones” where direct contact with blood, body fluids and/or other potentially infectious materials is most likely to occur. (ANSI/AAMI PB70).
- If there is a medium to high risk of contamination and the need for a large critical zone, isolation gowns that claim moderate to high barrier protection (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 3 or 4) can be used.
- For healthcare activities with low, medium, or high risk of contamination, surgical gowns (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Levels 1-4), can be used. These gowns are intended to be worn by healthcare personnel during surgical procedures.
- If the risk of bodily fluid exposure is low or minimal, gowns that claim minimal or low levels of barrier protection (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 1 or 2) can be used. These gowns should not be worn during surgical or invasive procedures, or for medium to high-risk contamination care activities.
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