Most healthcare workers improperly remove protective equipment

Most healthcare workers are not taking proper precautions to remove personal protective equipment correctly, which increases the risk of spreading infectious pathogens, according to a report published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison observed healthcare personnel as they entered and exited patient rooms with specified isolation precautions, which are used to help stop the spread of germs between patients. Isolation precautions may require the use of gowns, gloves, face protection and other protective garments.

Gloves should be removed first, followed by gentle removal of the gown from the back while still in the isolated room, according to CDC recommendation. However, less than one in six healthcare workers observed followed the recommendations properly.

Of the 30 workers observed, 17 removed their gowns out of order, sixteen wore their protective garments outside of the isolated rooms and 15 removed them in a way that could cause pathogens to transfer on to their clothes, increasing the risk of carrying them outside of the isolated rooms.

"As a result of the current Ebola outbreak, the critical issue of proper PPE removal has come front and center," the authors wrote in the study. "Healthcare facilities should use this opportunity of heightened interest to undertake practice improvement focused on PPE removal protocol, including technique, for all healthcare-associated conditions that require the donning and doffing of PPE."

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