If healthcare workers are likely to come into contact with bodily fluids like blood, then they must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as these materials may contain infectious material or organisms.
We all know about masks, gowns and gloves – surgeons, nurses and GPs wear them when we visit. Recently, establishments like nurseries and care homes have started to use the disposable PPE made by companies like Regal Disposables. You might think that using disposables is more expensive, but it’s actually now cheaper than the costs of laundering reusable linens, as well as being safer.
You need to use your PPE properly
This equipment will only protect you, your colleagues and your clients if you use it appropriately before taking it off and disposing of it in the right ways. If you don’t, you’re more likely to pass on infections.
When do you need to wear PPE?
Each company and setting will have its own protocols and procedures depending on what it does, exactly, but the outlines are broadly similar.
Using disposable gloves
You need gloves when you’re doing something that involves the risk of contact with body fluids, broken skin, contaminated tools or instruments or harmful chemicals. You don’t need to put on gloves just in case, as they can sometimes get in the way. You need them when you may have contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, urine or vomit, or when you have to touch the mouths, genitals, eyes, nose, ears or lips of patients. You should also use gloves when you handle instruments that have been in touch with patients, when you have to touch an open wound and when you have to handle hazardous chemicals.
Your disposable gloves must fit closely but allow free movement and you should change them between patients and tasks. When you change your gloves, make sure you avoid touching the outer surfaces and stick to your in-house disposal procedure, before washing your hands.
Using disposable aprons
Aprons aren’t necessary for all care duties – helping someone to get dressed, for example. However, you will need one when you’re performing any care duties that could involve bodily fluids, personal hygiene and cleaning a patient’s room.
Putting on and taking off PPE
The process of putting on and taking off disposable PPE is pretty much the same; some institutions have slight variations, but they will be only minor.
You should select the right size and type of glove, perform hand hygiene then pull on the gloves, making sure they cover your wrists. To take them off, hold the first glove and peel it off, then, while holding the discarded glove in your other hand, insert an un-gloved finger into the cuff of the remaining glove and carefully peel it off. Throw both gloves in the clinical waste bin, taking care not to touch the outer surfaces, before performing hand hygiene again.
You should change your apron in between every patient and every task.
To don the apron, pull it over your head then tie it behind your back. When you need to remove it, break the ties and pull it down and away from your neck and shoulders, making sure you don’t touch the outer surfaces. Roll it into a bundle and throw it in the clinical waste bin, before cleansing your hands.