When Should Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Be Used in Healthcare?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is disposable clothing worn to create a barrier between blood, bodily fluids, or respiratory secretions. PPE is often used to prevent cross-contamination, such as in food preparation or for safety when using chemicals. Because of this, PPE is extremely important in care homes and healthcare.

When should PPE be used in healthcare?

Most commonly, personal protective clothing in healthcare settings are used for infection control. PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials and your skin, nose, mouth or eyes. This barrier has the potential to block the transmission of contaminants from blood, bodily fluids or respiratory secretions.

PPE also helps to protect those at a high risk of contracting infections, such as those with a medical condition, for example immunodeficiency, from being exposed to potentially infectious materials brought in by staff or visitors. PPE is designed as disposable clothing so it can be effectively removed and disposed of immediately after wear, often in special waste containers, to protect others from exposure to germs.

Types of PPE 

Medical Protective Clothing Healthcare PPE

All staff, patients and visitors should use PPE when there will be contact with blood, bodily fluids or respiratory secretions.

Gloves - wearing gloves protects your hands from germs and helps to reduce the spread of them. Getting germs onto your hands is one of the easiest ways of unintentionally spreading infection.

Masks - to cover your mouth and nose.

  • A surgical mask helps to protect you against germs and prevent your own germs from spreading from the mouth and nose area.
  • A special respiratory mask (respirator) forms a tight seal around your nose and mouth. This type of mask may be needed to prevent you from breathing in small germs like Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia.
  • Some masks have a see-through plastic screen that also covers your eyes.

Eye protection - includes face shields and goggles.

  • These protect the mucous membranes in your eyes from blood and bodily fluids. If contact is made between these fluids and your eyes, the germs from these fluids can enter the body through the mucous membranes.

Clothing - includes gowns, aprons, head coverings and shoe covers.

  • Often used during surgery.
  • Visitors wear gowns if visiting a person in isolation due to an illness that is extremely infectious.

Special PPE may be required when handling some cancer drugs - this equipment is referred to as cytotoxic PPE.

  • A gown with long sleeves and elastic cuffs can be used in order to stop the liquids touching your skin.
  • Also you may need to wear shoe covers, goggles and special gloves.

Your workplace will  generally specify when you need to use PPE and what type of PPE is required for different tasks or individuals. If you require medical protective equipment or other types of PPE, Beaucare’s wide range of personal protective clothing, are cost effective solutions. Do not hesitate, to get in touch if you have any queries and we will be more than happy to assist.

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