PPE for Droplet Precautions
When it comes to protecting yourself and your patients with droplet precautions, the right fits of personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential. Nursing staff must be aware of their environment and how to correctly choose and wear PPE, such as face masks with or without valves, eye protection, gowns, and gloves.
Understand the Concept of ‘Droplet Precautions.’
Droplet precautions refer to the practice of protecting yourself and your surroundings from diseases spread through small airborne particles such as coughs and sneezes. When droplets enter the air, they travel approximately 3 feet, so it’s essential to understand this distance and the type of personal protective equipment necessary for that specific environment in order to prevent potential exposure.
Identify which PPE is needed for droplet precautions.
Medical staff and volunteers who work with sick patients use many types of PPE. Using the proper gear and ventilation is critical to protecting yourself and others when exposed to germs and infectious diseases.
Wearing a mask is the best way to protect yourself from droplet transmission. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are both suitable for this purpose as they create an effective barrier between you and potential infectious droplets in the surrounding environment.
It’s important to remember that protective eyewear, like safety goggles or face shields, should be worn with a mask to further limit the risk of infection, especially if you are in contact with potentially infectious body fluids.
Gloves and Gowns
Wearing gloves when interacting with shared surfaces can help block the transmission of germs through contact. Gloves should be impermeable and latex-free. Gowns will protect clothing and skin from contact with potentially infectious particles, especially when caring for multiple patients.
Negative Pressure Room
When caring for multiple patients with an infectious disease, a negative pressure room may also be needed to prevent contamination of the environment by airborne particles.
In addition to PPE, it is best to consider other factors that will play into making sure that you are as safe as possible from extra exposure to germs and disease.
Touching Your Face
While these PPE items are effective when combined, it is also important to remember not to touch your face while wearing PPE. This can also reduce potential risks as viral particles can be brought into the body through contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Furthermore, effective ventilation is essential to reduce the accumulation of particles suspended in the air; if possible, windows should be opened during treatment to improve air circulation and allow fresh air into the room.
Ensure you practice this process in a designated area or in front of running water. You should also wash your hands thoroughly before and after removing PPE to avoid any contamination and ensure proper hygiene practices. Rearrange your work area to create separation between yourself and the patient to help reduce contamination from direct contact or aerosols within close proximity.
Have the Enough Supplies in Each Area
Have an adequate amount of dedicated supplies for each patient that you care for in order to prevent cross-contamination from one patient to another.
Put on Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment Appropriately
Before providing care to any patient, it is essential that healthcare workers put on the appropriate PPE in the correct order. The order of donning and doffing should be face protection, gloves, gown, and eye protection. Remember to check that your PPE fits securely before providing care. If the respirator or mask does not fit snuggly to your face, ensure that you have a seal check with a forward-facing verification test and side leakage tests to ensure that the mask is securely fitted. Ensure that you are familiar with how long specific equipment can be safely used, and discard any PPE that has become soiled, damp, or torn. Lastly, practice proper decontamination and disposal of potentially contaminated PPE to prevent self-contamination and cross-contamination from one patient to another.
Know How to Take Off PPE Safely
Taking off your PPE correctly takes as much practice and attention to detail as putting it on properly. When taking off PPE, doff gloves first and discard them in proper trash disposal containers. Then remove the gown, starting at the neck and shoulders. Tuck the gown away from your face to avoid cross-contamination when discarding it. Lastly, discard eye protection in a face-up position after carefully removing it from behind the head instead of lifting the front over your face. Pay attention when performing this process so that you can remove it quickly and protect yourself from any contact with germs or bacteria that the protective equipment may be carrying.
After you’ve finished caring for a patient with droplet precautions, remember to remove your PPE properly and safely dispose of the contaminated materials in a designated area away from public use. Proper disposal of masks and gloves is key in preventing future infections, which should not be overlooked. Always wear gloves when handling potentially infected objects, such as equipment or items used by the patient or medical personnel. After taking it off, place them in allocated bins/ containers lined with plastic bags for proper disposal. Additionally, disinfecting surfaces with a bleach solution can provide further protection against the spread of the disease. Finally, hands should be washed with soap and water for twenty seconds before exiting the room.
PPE for droplet precautions is essential for protecting healthcare workers and patients from the spread of infections. When you are already a healthcare worker, taking a CNA practice exam to complete your certification, or just getting into nursing school, I hope this helps you understand the need for PPE. By following these guidelines, healthcare workers can help reduce the risk of disease for themselves and their patients while helping everyone enjoy better living. When caring for a patient with droplet precautions, remember to practice proper hygiene, wear PPE properly and discard it safely, and keep surfaces disinfected to create a safe and healthy environment.