One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of protective equipment in healthcare settings, both for patients, visitors and professionals. In this article, we tell you what protective equipment is essential in hospitals according to Canadian government regulations.
What does PPE mean?
Before we begin, you may have seen the acronym PPE when looking for information on protective equipment. So, the meaning of PPE is simple: protection personal equipment. This term originated in 1986 in the European Union, which established basic safety standards for workers in health care or other hazardous jobs that require it.
PPE in the workplace is different for each profession, just as a construction worker must wear a hard hat for protection, doctors and nurses need other gear.
Personal protective equipment in healthcare spaces
Having clarified what PPE is, we will proceed to explain which PPE in the workplace is required. However, it should be clarified that in the case of specific diseases such as Ebola, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention usually establish specific parameters.
Perhaps the most important protective equipment used by both health professionals and their patients and even visitors. They are used to protect the individual from bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that could infect him/her. The objective is to prevent liquids or solids from coming into contact with the skin or mucous membranes.
There are four levels of surgical gown protection. A level one surgical gown is typically worn by visitors; level two surgical gowns are used for procedures such as suturing and drawing blood; level three, which is necessary for treatments with more potential for fluid transfer such as inserting an intravenous line; and finally, level four surgical gowns are used for surgeries.
Although a surgical gown is a highly effective piece of protective equipment to prevent the transfer of fluids, it does not protect the hands. Thus, it is necessary for health care professionals to use medical gloves in all situations where there is exposure to body fluids or when they must handle medical equipment that has had contact with these fluids.
Medical gloves are made of different materials such as nitrile, polyvinyl, neoprene and latex. This protective equipment comes in two versions: examination gloves and surgical gloves. The main difference is that surgical gloves allow for greater sensitivity to help with precision in surgery and are made with more attention to quality as there is an excess of fluids present in surgical procedures.
On the other hand, it is very important that medical gloves are removed carefully. They should be taken from the wrist, inserting two fingers and turning the gloves inside out when removing them and then disposing of them in a toxic waste bin.
Disposable medical masks
In terms of face protection equipment, there are multiple types of medical masks. First, there are the N95 and KN95 medical masks. These are characterized by a tight fit and filter at least 95% of the air.
Thus, N95 and KN95 medical masks are especially useful when healthcare personnel, visitors or patients are confronted with airborne infections, which is why they were highly recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, there are medical surgical masks. These are disposable and are used in a large percentage of medical procedures because they prevent the contact of mucous membranes with body fluids, blood, among others.
It is key to note that they are disposable, for example, if they become wet or as soon as the medical procedure in question is finished, they should be deposited in a toxic waste bin.
Face shields are another protective equipment used to protect mucous membranes from other body fluids. These are used especially by dental professionals as their faces are in close proximity to that of their patients during treatments.
Thus, they completely protect the facial area from splashes of different substances that the patient may expel. However, they are also used by doctors, nurses and even veterinarians.
This personal protective equipment is characterized by being made of transparent plastic and is fastened to the head by means of a safety band. Depending on use and the manufacturer’s instructions, they can be reused with proper cleaning and disinfection, however, like most personal protective equipment, they are frequently disposable.
Medical safety glasses
Another PPE in the workplace that is frequently used is safety glasses. These are stronger than regular glasses and although they may have prescription lenses to help with vision they do not always do.
They must also be able to withstand scratches. In some cases, it is possible to find safety goggles capable of resisting radiation. This protective equipment is highly resistant and allows the eyes of health professionals to be completely protected from any splashes, so they are used in procedures with a high probability of splashes, for example, in surgery.
Disposable medical boots
Finally, we would like to highlight the use of disposable medical boots as personal protective equipment. These come in different sizes and can protect from the ankle to the shin.
These are used to avoid contaminating external spaces with shoes, especially if you are treating an area of high infection or that must be kept sterile.
Although its use is not as frequent as face masks, surgical gowns or medical gloves, this protective equipment may be needed in certain healthcare settings and even in food handling industries, among others.
Finally, if you’ve been Googling “safety equipment near me,” look no further. At Divocco medical we offer top quality protective equipment, supervised by medical professionals, with periodically negotiable pricing and deliverability so you’ll never run out of supplies at your workplace.