Health Care PPE Training Needs a Boost, Study Finds
Madison, Wisconsin - Only about half of health care workers correctly removed their personal protective equipment (PPE) during a recent observation, according to a new study led by Dr. Nasia Safdar, associate professor of medicine at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Safdar is also medical director of infection control at UW Hospital.
The study, “Variation in health care workers removal of personal protective equipment,” was published in the July 2015 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. Safdar’s research team observed health care workers at UW Hospital in October 2014. Improper removal of PPE may result in transmission of infection to health care workers.
“As a result of the current Ebola virus outbreak, the critical issue of proper PPE removal for infectious conditions that require PPE has become front and center. However, the current removal practices are not well described,” said Safdar. “This study found that only about half of health care workers correctly remove their PPE, and very few remove their PPE in the correct order and dispose of it in the proper location.”
“UW Hospital is prepared. Training and education is a continuous activity. This data shows that hospitals need to keep up with training of health care workers and this applies to all contagious conditions,” said Safdar.
A single trained observer watched outside of patient rooms that were specified as following isolation precautions. Thirty health care workers were observed removing their personal protective equipment. Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guided the direct observation.
While 43 percent removed their PPE in the correct order, only 17 percent also disposed of it in the patient room, which is the protocol. Forty percent removed their personal protective equipment in the hallway, which is outside the designated isolation area in the patient room. Half incorrectly removed their gown with a lot of movement, which could lead to contamination of the health care worker.
The study was completed at a single site and there was no contamination assessment of the health care workers after the PPE was removed, but the implications of the study indicate changes need to be made.
“Health care facilities should use this time of heightened interest to undertake practices improvement focused on PPE removal protocol, including technique, for all health care-associated conditions that require PPE,” said Safdar. “There needs to be further education and collaboration within hospitals to improve compliance.”
Sarah Van Hoof, from the department of infection control at UW Hospital and Caroline Zellmer, UW-Madison undergraduate, were also authors of the study.
Date Published: 07/15/2015