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When Can Vendor Reps Return to ORs?

New recommendations support their safe reentry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published: May 22, 2020

PERSONAL PROTECTION PERSONAL PROTECTION Medical device representatives who consult during elective surgeries should no longer bring their own PPE.

Medical device representatives who've been sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic are ready to reenter ORs and collaborate with surgical teams. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) this week released clinically based recommendations to make sure reps return safely and responsibly.

The new guidelines in brief:

  • The same social distancing and safety policies in all areas of your facility that apply to staff, patients and patient escorts should also apply to device reps. These policies will vary based on the COVID-19 incidence rates and activity in your area. Whenever possible, device reps should deliver services, information and support to staff remotely. Device reps should take safety precautions in accordance with CDC and local public health recommendations regarding hand hygiene and the use of face coverings.
  • Reps should be screened for symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat. The guidelines note that requirements for device reps to present negative COVID-19 test results are inconsistent with current CDC recommendations concerning testing priorities for healthcare workers and patients. Any required testing of asymptomatic individuals should only be consistent with and in accordance with applicable state and local health authority guidance.
  • Case scheduling and prioritization policies for proper inventory of PPE should account for device reps essential to a procedure. For quality control purposes, PPE worn by device reps should be managed and supplied by the facility rather than the rep. Proper respiratory protection, like fit-tested N95 respirators with face shield, should be provided to device reps present for aerosol-generating procedures involving patients who are not confirmed negative for COVID-19.
  • Device reps should understand CDC infection prevention recommendations for COVID-19, FDA guidance for PPE, CDC guidance for PPE donning and doffing, and facility policy related to COVID-19 safety principles.

"Nurses and medical device representatives are partners in providing safe patient care and, due to COVID-19, their communications have been interrupted," says AORN CEO/Executive Director Linda Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN. "We believe this guidance will reactivate these important relationships in a manner that is safe for patients as well as healthcare workers and device representatives."

Joe Paone

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When Can Vendor Reps Return to ORs?
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