We would like to think bad bacteria only come from outside sources, but they are within us too. Did you know microorganisms make up about 1-3% of the human body? For every human cell, there are 10 microbial cells living in our bodies. We literally become hosts as early as conception.
Good and bad bacteria should be in balance to prevent disease and infection. We can achieve this by keeping our GI system healthy and skin intact. When we are handling certain foods and equipment it is vital we prevent introducing harmful biomes within us. Applying and removing PPE properly is just as important as using it.
You may not know how to use PPE the right way or maybe you just want to verify you’re doing it the proper way. Either way, you will find this PPE guide helpful.
What is PPE?
PPE is short for Personal Protective Equipment. We use it to provide a barrier of protection from harmful viruses and bacteria. Things like gloves, gowns, and masks shield our skin, eyes, nose, and mouth from potentially harmful sources. Goggles, gowns, and closed-toe boots are also other types of personal protective equipment.
The type of equipment that we use depends on what type of infection you want to prevent. Gloves are always used as a universal precaution for any situation.
Face masks, such as an N95 respirator, are used to prevent the spread of airborne infections. Standard face masks and gowns help prevent transmitting droplet infections.
Prior to using PPE, a person should wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer. This will further reduce the chances of spreading infections.
PPE is also utilized for people who are immunocompromised. They are more likely to get sick or suffer from a severe infection compared to the average person.
Importance of PPE in Healthcare and Everyday Life
Bacteria do not only enter when there is a break in the skin. Bacteria can also seep into your pores; it can enter your eyes; it can be breathed in from your lungs; it may be inhaled through your nose. These are all variable modes of entry and transmission a harmful microorganism can take to enter you.
There are many reasons a person may use PPE, but it is primarily used in the healthcare field. PPE allows nurses and doctors to provide care and prevent infecting a patient or themselves.
PPE, with very few exceptions, should only be used once and never shared with others. There is a stark difference between using clean and sterile PPE. If you contaminate a sterile field, you will have to start over again with new PPE.
Use Quality PPE
In the hospital, people use to protect people from a variety of diseases such as:
- Hepatitis A, B, or C
- Coronavirus (Covid19)
- Staph/Strep infections
- Various strains of the cold
The quality of personal protective equipment use matters. Poorly made PPE can easily break or rip and cost more in the long run as you need to replace it. It takes away from being fully protected and increases the chances of infection.
Purchasing PPE from trusted sources, like DMS Coalition, helps prevent such complications.
Dawning and Removing PPE
The order you put on and take off PPE also helps reduce the spread of infection. There are steps to follow every time you use PPE in the healthcare setting.
Other things to take into consideration when using PPE are:
- Performing hand hygiene regularly as needed
- Keep hands away from your face and touching unnecessary items once applied
- Always change any PPE that is highly contaminated or has a rip
- Save resources by only using PPE required depending on the precaution (droplet, airborne, universal)
If you aren’t sure which type of equipment you should use, ask your employer (it may vary based on where you work).
Order of Putting on PPE
What you use matters on precaution, but you should always wash your hands first before starting. The proper sequence for donning PPE is as follows:
- Respirator or Mask
- Face Shield or Goggles
A proper gown covers you from neck to knees and wraps around your wrists. Fasten the tie at the neck and waist. Be sure to secure the mask at the bridge of the nose and below the chin. Respirators, like the N95, must be fit-checked.
Goggles and gloves should be snug to fit. Gloves should also cover your wrist over the gown.
Order to Remove PPE
When you finish with your equipment, take great precautions to dispose of it in the proper area. Some PPE must be removed in a biohazard container.
You should also remove PPE prior to exiting a patient’s room (other than a respirator). Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands afterward. Use sense and skip the sanitizer in situations hand washing is better. The order for removing PPE is as follows (there are two acceptable versions):
- Face Shield or Googles
- Mask or Respirator
Outer gloves and materials, visible or not, are “contaminated.” You must never touch it with your bare hands. Remove one glove from the outside and the second (with your now free fingers), from the inside. Only remove the goggles, gown, and mask by the strings as the outside is now dirty. You may remove the respirator after leaving the room and closing the door.
You can also remove it in this order:
- Face Shield or Goggles
- Respirator or Mask
While the steps are different, you must take similar care to avoid contamination. Never should the outside of equipment first.
Preventing the Spread of Viruses and Bacteria
It is crazy to learn that more than 50% of our bodies are actually not “human” cells, but it’s true. We share our bodies with bacteria that wait for the opportunity for infection — if we let it.
Keeping our immune system strong and using personal protective equipment help prevent infection. In this way, we can keep the ratio of good bacteria that help us higher than the bad bacteria.
In the healthcare setting, good hand hygiene and PPE prevent people from getting infected. These steps would be useless if you have no knowledge of donning and removing PPE. It’s a good thing you figured it out today.
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