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The current stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been insufficient as the coronavirus toll increases across the globe. The rising global demand is also due to misleading information, panic buying and stockpiling; leading to global shortage. Moreover, the capacity to scale up PPE production is inadequate; especially if the widespread, inappropriate use of PPE continues.

With the surging requirement for such essential safety kits for all health workers at the COVID-19 point of care, it is most effective to optimize the usage of PPE.

Tips to Optimize the Use of PPE

Guidance for optimizing the availability of PPE

By viewing the PPE shortage scenario on the international level, using the following guidelines can help:

Ensure if PPE is appropriate and used rationally

The usage of PPE depends on the risk of exposure (as per the type of activity) and the transmission dynamics of the pathogen for each healthcare personnel (HCP). Avoid overuse of PPE as it can impact further on the supply shortages. Following such recommendations will ensure a rationalized usage of PPE for all health workers.

  • While caring for an infected patient, PPE usage should be prioritized according to the setting, personnel type and activity.
  • Health workers involved in direct care must use PPE kit that involves  gowns, surgical masks, gloves and appropriate eye protection. Know more.
  • HCP involved aerosol-generating procedures should use eye protection, aprons or gowns, gloves and respirators.
  • In case of shortage or no availability, using alternatives is recommended to reduce exposure risks for HCP as well as patient’s safety.
  • Cancel non-urgent and/or elective procedures or appointments.
  • Consider using reusable PPE particularly which can be re-processed.

Read more about PPE usage guidelines.

Minimize the Need

To protect health workers from coronavirus exposure in the healthcare facility, minimizing the need can be the first step. Know how-

  • Consider using telemedicine facilities at least for suspected coronavirus cases; thus reducing the need for these cases to travel to a healthcare facility for examination.
  • Restrict healthcare workers that are not involved in the direct care of a suspected or confirmed case. Consider organizing all activities into a bundle so as to minimize the count a room is entered. (For example, checking vitals while performing other care). In a similar manner, plan activities to be performed at the bedside.
  • Use a mobile booth for sample collection that is fully equipped with PPE kits; housing only a single health worker using appropriate PPE (as being practiced in Jharkhand & Kerala). The HCP can collect throat swabs and nasal swabs of suspected cases (one at a time) using only his gloved hands out of the booth at a minimum of 6ft. distance from a suspect standing outside the booth. The setup can be used to collect at least 100 samples per day and transport them to the nearest COVID-19 testing facility. Setting such mobile booths in areas having PPE scarcity can optimize usage and save a huge amount of money.

Ideally, no visitors must enter a patient’s room. Although, if this is not possible, allow a limited number of visitors for a fixed short period of time; especially for an isolation room. Ensure they follow strict instructions regarding how to remove and put PPE and perform hand hygiene to avoid self-contamination.

Coordinate with supply chain management

PPE management should coordinate with an international or national supply chain management systems that include:

  • Tracking and controlling requests for PPE kits.
  • Promoting the use of a streamlined request management approach to eliminate stock duplication and strictly adheres to the fundamental stock management principles to control wastage, overstock and ruptures.
  • Tracking end-to-end distribution.

Start Testing for COVID-19 here.

Check out other articles on COVID-19.


Optimizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supplies

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