Oh Boy!

Angie SzumlinskiNews

We are now moving past the fear and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully. So, of course, now we are hearing of researchers dissecting what we did, what worked, what didn’t work and of course, how we could do better. We are grateful, of course, but at the same time, a little disillusioned as everything we did was directed by “experts”, and now, maybe, some of this guidance wasn’t correct.

One topic that has recently been researched is the fit testing of N95 masks. You remember, right? We had limited access to appropriate masks and when we did have access, we couldn’t find test kits to perform a fit test on each employee. Ultimately, many providers opted to use the masks without a fit test as it was likely more effective than cloth or surgical masks. Then the PPE shortages struck hard and fast. It was not only difficult to secure appropriate PPE but sometimes impossible! Bring on the CDC guidance for extended use and limited reuse of N95s for health care workers.

In this study, the practice of N95 reuse resulted in fit failure occurring in 38.7% of masks after 1 shift and a 92.8% failure after 5 shifts of reuse. The trifold N95s had a higher incidence of fit failure compared with dome N95s. In the closing discussion, the recommendation is that efforts should be made to avoid critical PPE shortages. This would include controlling panicked market-place behavior, maintaining, and distributing domestic inventories, and stockpiling an adequate PPE supply. When was the last time you looked at your emergency preparedness plan for pandemic? Maybe it is time to review your current plan, inventory your PPE supplies, discuss options with your medical suppliers and your medical director, make the effort today because tomorrow may come sooner than you think! Stay well and stay informed!

For more information:

Can You Reuse a KN95 or N95 Mask? Experts Say Yes, but Follow These Steps | Smart News| Smithsonian Magazine

Strategies for Conserving the Supply of N95® Filtering Facepiece Respirators (cdc.gov)