Best Practices involving PPEs

As the SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) causing the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage its way throughout the world, affecting millions of lives irrespective of borders and oceans, it has triggered a rather peculiar hoarding tendency among the public. It’s easy to understand why. With so much uncertainty surrounding the nature of this virus, how it’s transmitted (initial reports have been published but due to the limited samples and new findings, it changes every now and then), and what’s the best way to avoid it, people would rather stay on the safer side, in the comfort of the PPEs that they’ve amassed.

With this article, we’ve gathered the best practices involving PPEs: understanding how the disease is transmitted, prevention is better than cure after all, how to properly don and doff PPEs (to stop wasting our already limited supply), and lastly how we can ensure an intact supply chain when it comes to these precious commodities.

Proper Planning

If you’re a procurement specialist in charge of making sure your school, institution, company, or even your own household has enough PPE available to last you through the duration of this pandemic, proper planning is crucial.

Clearly, the best time to do this would’ve been before this whole thing blew out of proportion but fret not, as long as there’s no vaccine, it’s safe to assume that this will go on for quite some time. What you need to do is to: 1) Calculate your estimated supply needs for (the CDC recommends) the next 6 to 8 weeks. If you’re a hospital, companies such as Kimberly-Clark have come up with the PPE Demand Analysis Tool that can give you a ballpark of how much of each PPE you need factoring hospital admissions combined with your facility’s current rate of PPE usage. 2) Increase efforts to educate personnel on the proper donning and doffing of PPE. Wearing PPE is not a 100% guarantee that you will not contract the virus. Observing proper protocols as instructed by the CDC/NIOSH and the PPE manufacturer will assist in making sure you are well-protected. The more you are aware of how various PPE is worn, the lesser the chances of these PPE being discarded for being “unsterile”. 3) Be proactive in prioritizing who gets the PPE supply. Normally, first-line responders, the ones directly treating the sick comes first, then those who are dealing with vaccine research and medicine production, followed by the ones dealing with logistics, transport of essential goods, then those who belong in the transportation sector, then those who belong in other essential industries (such as manufacturing, utilities, etc), and lastly the general public.

The Right Way of Donning and Doffing PPE

PPEs are used if there is a risk of exposure to infectious material. They are designed to protect our skin and mucus membranes from exposure to pathogens. Given the threat of COVID-19, it’s important to emphasize the proper use of precautions in infection control in any setting.

What we know so far is that the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 can be transmitted through direct contact of an infected person, indirect contact via contaminated surfaces, objects, etc., via droplets (when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talk, or when a healthcare professional performs suctioning, intubation and resuscitation), and lastly airborne means (recently it was considered that the virus can remain aerosolized and float in the air for a certain period and thus, social distancing might not be enough to remain “safe”).

To decrease the risk of transmission the CDC recommends the use of gloves, gown, masks/respirators (with a rating of N95 or higher), and a full-face shield.

Donning of PPE starts with the disinfecting of your hands. Once done, proceed with the gown, be sure to go with the fluid-resistant ones. If you can pick a gown that has holes for your thumbs, to keep it secure in place, that would be better. After, proceed with the mask. Cup the mask in one hand then secure the first band on the behind your neck and the second band on your head. Check for air leaks and adjust accordingly. It should fit snuggly following the contour of your nose and mouth. Then place the face shield over your head and then you can now proceed with the gloves. Be sure to pick gloves that cover your wrists. 

Taking off the PPE is a bit more challenging. The procedure starts at the patient’s bedside. Start off with the gloves. Grab one glove with your other hand gently removing it, turning it inside out. With your free hand, slide a finger underneath the wristband of the other glove and turn it inside out, discard afterward. Disinfect your hands. Remove the ties on the back of your gown and slowly wiggle your way out of the gown. Roll it inside out making sure only the inner portion is exposed, then discard. Disinfect your hands again and go out of the patient’s room and disinfect your hands again. To remove the face shield, tilt your head forward. Remove the face shield and place it on a container for decontamination (or discard it if it’s not reusable). To remove the mask, tilt your head forward, remove the lower band first and let it hang freely. Proceed with the upper band and discard the mask after. Always avoid touching the front of the shield and the front of the mask. 

Managing the supply chain

Another best practice is to proactively source out reliable PPE suppliers who have knowledge of the intricacies of the supply chain involving these precious commodities. Verify if the supplier has knowledge of the origin of their supplies, has complete control over their logistics, and most especially if their products are approved by the NIOSH or CDC. 

As our scientific community sheds lighter on the nature of SARS-CoV-2, you can also expect more best practices tips from with regards to PPE. Kara Supply has a long-standing reputation for being a reliable supplier when it comes to PPE. Feel free to reach out to us and we’d be more than happy to discuss the details with you.