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Study: Most Healthcare Workers Remove PPE Incorrectly

Researchers say less than half of those taking off and disposing of PPE are putting themselves at risk.

Published: August 19, 2015

You probably know the proper sequence for removing personal protective equipment: Gloves should be removed first, followed by any goggles or face shield, the gown and finally the mask or respirator. But a new study has found that fewer than half of healthcare workers correctly remove PPE, putting themselves at risk for an infection.

In a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine observed staff members donning and doffing PPE and found that most were doing it incorrectly.

Researchers observed 30 workers removing their PPE and found that only 43% removed it in the correct order. Even fewer (about 17%) removed it in the correct order and disposed of it properly.

The study used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines on donning and doffing PPE. According to the CDC, you should first remove gloves, followed by any goggles or face shield, the gown and finally the mask or respirator. PPE should be removed at the patient's doorway or in an anteroom, except for the respirator, which should be removed after leaving the patient's room.

Many factors could cause the variation, according to the researchers, including "a lack of awareness of the proper protocol, time constraints or lack of realization of the importance of proper PPE removal." They suggest that facilities make donning and doffing education more of a priority.

Kendal Gapinski


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