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Research contends PPE use may be vastly underestimated during a disaster

Hi everyone, it’s Scott Wallask. Hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s celebrations, however loud or quiet they may have been.
One of HCPro’s free e-newsletters, Infection Control Weekly Monitor, recently published information about a study that surprised me.
The research, published in the Journal of Infection Control, made some stark conclusions regarding personal protective equipment use during a disaster. The study involved a 24-hour flu pandemic exercise in a British hospital.
According to researchers, in the worst-case scenario during the height of a flu pandemic, a ward with patients experiencing the same symptoms could expect to use:
  • 5,250 plastic aprons per week (compared to normal use of 400)
  • 8,400 pairs of gloves per week(compared to normal use of 850)
  • 4,550 surgical masks per week(compared to normal use of less than 10)
  • 100 respirators equivalent to an N99 model per week, a higher protection than common N95 respirators (compared to a normal use of 0)
The surgical mask use represents a 450-fold increase. “This has significant implications not only for cost and procurement, but also for storage. Accommodating supplies on the ward for the 24 hours of the exercise was difficult,” researches wrote in the Journal of Infection Control.
Why did this increase happen? One idea floated by researchers was that staff members lacked confidence in using personal protective equipment during a pandemic response and found the items uncomfortable to wear for long periods, which in turn dragged out the time needed to complete even basic duties.