Why don't nurses always use facial protective equipment?

Even though guidelines exist for the use of facial protective equipment like masks or goggles to protect nurses from getting sick in the workplace, adherence to the guidelines remains "suboptimal," according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

To find out why nurses don't always use their FPE, researchers conducted a survey on frequency of FPE use and barriers to use, administering the survey to registered nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians and other clinicians in one hospital.

A minority of respondents reported always or usually wearing a mask or eye protection while suctioning a patient. The following are the most common reasons participants listed as to why they did not wear FPE all the time:

  • In an emergency, face protection is not a priority: 48 percent
  • Didn't think face protection was necessary during open suctioning: 25 percent
  • Had to walk too far to obtain FPE: 15 percent
  • Already wore glasses so they don't require eye protection: 14 percent
  • Eye protection impedes their vision: 8 percent
  • FPE is too uncomfortable: 7 percent

More than half of the respondents believed FPE should be kept in patient rooms so as to be more accessible, and 37 percent said they would be more likely to wear FPE if it were more accessible.

To increase FPE use, hospitals could offer multiple design options and include frontline staff in product selection. Additionally, hospital infection prevention programs should "ensure that reasonable options are easily accessible and that providers fully understand the potential risk of transmission of infection," the study authors wrote.

More articles on personal protective equipment:
Johns Hopkins designs improved Ebola protective gear
One lesson from Ebola? Stock the supply chain early
Ebola PPE demand is high; US spend complicates issue

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