On July 15, 2020, the CDC announced a change to the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for HealthCare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. Eye protection is an important part of PPE in preventing unnecessary exposure. As with any point of entry into the body (i.e., nose, mouth, broken skin, etc.) the eyes are considered high risk for exposure and are often not protected adequately. As a reminder, the CDC guidelines regarding eye protection state:
- Put on eye protection (i.e., goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face) upon entry to the patient room or care area, if not already wearing as part of extended use strategies to optimize PPE supply.
- Protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays. (NEW)
- Ensure that eye protection is compatible with the respirator so there is no interference with proper positioning of the eye protection or with the fit or seal of the respirator.
- Remove eye protection after leaving the patient room or care area unless implementing extended use.
- Reusable eye protection (e.g., goggles) must be cleaned and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s reprocessing instructions prior to re-use. Disposable eye protection should be discarded after use unless following protocols for extended use or reuse.
So, what does this mean for your caregivers? Additional precautions should be implemented if staff are currently using safety glasses/trauma glasses versus snug-fitting goggles/face shields when the risk of exposure to splashes and sprays is likely. Remember, it is easier to address the risk of an infection control breach than it is to address a negative outcome related to a breach. Take the additional steps to ensure your caregivers are provided with the recommended PPE and use it appropriately. If you are having difficulty maintaining an adequate supply of any PPE please contact your local health department and/or healthcare association for assistance. Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned!