‘PPE’ is usually well known as Personal Protective Equipment. PPEs is an essential apparatus, specially designed for healthcare experts and the frontline workers employed in the healthcare industry. It is usually worn by workers at the workplace to reduce risk to hazards that may lead to illness and serious health issues. If any person comes into contact with any chemical, biological, mechanical, radiological, clinical or physical reactions or any other precarious hazards, then he might suffer from these diseases and illness. PPE generally acts as a shield guard and protects against spread of germs in the hospital. The importance of PPEs gained importance to the common people during the time of COVID-19. Donning proper PPE not only protects the health workers from injuries and illness, but also keeps them safe from those diseases which can cause adverse effects in the long run due to close and frequent contact with various Chemicals and elements. In this article we shall discuss the types and uses of PPE in Healthcare sector and its importance in today’s times.
Types of PPE in Healthcare
Following are the different types of PPE in Healthcare:
- Hand Gloves to stop the spread of germs and reduce infections. It is a very common type which is used by every doctor, dentist, and other clinical experts during the time of treatment or surgery.
- Surgical Masks to cover nose and mouth and prevent viruses and infection, which can be easily transmitted to the human body through cough droplets or sneezing or the contiguous droplets carried in the air.
- Clothing kit with full body apron, head covers and shoe cover. They are frequently used while performing surgeries or treating patients affected by deadly viruses and also in case when someone visits patients in isolation.
- Face Shields and Clinical Eyewear to protect the mucous membranes present in our eyes which get easily affected from the blood or the bodily fluids. These bodily fluids are dangerous in nature and are highly infectious if any person comes in contact with this blood or fluids, can get affected by any serious illness.
In case any clinical expert is dealing with cancer drugs, one requires a special PPE kit which is called the Cytotoxic PPE. It includes a head gear, secured gown, shoe covers, Respiratory protective equipment with P2 (N95) specific filter, used as a good substitute for surgical masks to deal with the chemotherapy agents.
Use of PPE in Healthcare Sector and Its Importance
It is important to keep in mind regarding the safety use of PPE in healthcare while manufacturing, for its importance in prevention of transmission of diseases. The PPE kits must be designed keeping in mind their functions and purpose, some specifications such as- Protection from spreading of germs and infection, acts as an antibody, suitable to all environments, fit for all the healthcare experts and comfortable to use for a longer period of time so that they can work effectively.
Apart from the design factor, donning and doffing of PPE in healthcare sector is very important. One must be aware about the proper sequence of donning and doffing in order to reduce contamination and spread of germs and keep the Healthcare workers safe, nurturing the patients affected with highly transmissible disease. Less education and improper training may have an impact on the health of the workers.
Let’s take a short look on the sequence of Donning and doffing of PPE:
- You need to maintain proper hand hygiene- cleaning and wearing a hand gloves.
- Then you need to put on the shoe covers.
- You then need to put on a sterile gown, before starting any treatment process.
- You need to wear head covers and cover your face with a surgical mask. Type of mask worn by the experts depends on the adversity of the infection or diseases.
- You need to use a face shield to protect your face from airborne germs.
- You need to put on clinical goggles in case of a requirement.
Frequent use of PPE is a mandate in the medical industry because it protects the workers from various hazards, mainly Radiation hazards and Biological hazards which are caused by agents bearing virus, bacteria, which can affect any person and cause serious illness. Health workers have to work closely with the patients thus they need to safeguard themselves against all the various infections whether by direct or indirect contact. Transmissions can be in the form of physical contact, cough droplets, droplets carried by air, airborne diseases, or by any contagious objects.
As per the guidelines laid down by World Health Organization (WHO), patients and health workforce have to follow certain principles (Infection Prevention and Control) to safeguard against all the infectious diseases. Keeping in mind the seriousness of the diseases WHO ensures certain regulations regarding the safety of the workforce and use of different PPE kits, depending on the type and nature of viruses. Over the recent years WHO have provided all the technical guidelines and made aware all the Healthcare workers about the usage of PPE and its advantages. In various countries it is a part of statutory act to use PPE in all the Health organizations and institutions.
Advantages of Use of PPE in Healthcare Industry
Following are the advantages of use of PPE in Health Industry:
- Use of PPE also adds some vital benefits. It prevents from vulnerability caused by harmful bacteria or viruses, mitigate risk of respiratory problems caused due to inhalation or absorption of contaminated air,
- Personal protective equipment also reduces injuries that may occur at the workplace, improvise the health of the workers and make a safe and reliable working environment for all the health workers.
Drawbacks In Case Of Use of PPE in Healthcare Sector
PPE kits play a very important role for controlling infections and spreading of germs but it is not the ultimate solution, it also comes with some drawbacks. It was observed that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there was shortage of supply of PPE kits, moreover proper fit was another major challenge and using improper Protective equipment while treating the infectious patients, may lead to severe infection and cause facial and bodily damage. Thus it is very necessary that all the health care institutions should have a proper supply of PPE kits along with available sizes, suited to all employees.
In order to safeguard the workforce from any occupational hazards or chemical hazards, a wide range of industries (viz., Construction, Mining, Chemical and Pharmaceuticals) uses the PPE kits on a continual basis. When the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE in healthcare sector came to the rescue for all the frontline workers and provided protection from the virus and became one of the dominant performer during the pandemic. Healthcare workers with the use of PPE by maintaining proper donning and doffing process, can mitigate risk of spreading germs and infection and save the lives of many.
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