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Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Protective Equipment


1. What testing and standards should I consider when looking for CDC-recommended protective clothing?

  • CDC’s guidance for Considerations for Selecting Protective Clothing used in Healthcare for Protection against Microorganisms in Blood and Body Fluids outlines the scientic evidence and information on national and international standards, test methods, and specications for uid-resistant and impermeable gowns and coveralls used in healthcare.
  • Many organizations have published guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in medical settings. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association of the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI): ANSI/AAMI PB70:2012 describes the liquid barrier performance and a classication of surgical and isolation gowns for use in health care facilities.
  • As with any type of PPE, the key to proper selection and use of protective clothing is to understand the hazards and the risk of exposure. Some of the factors important to assessing the risk of exposure in health facilities include source, modes of transmission, pressures and types of contact, and duration and type of tasks to be performed by the user of the PPE. (Technical Information Report (TIR) 11 [AAMI 2005]).
  • For gowns, it is important to have sucient overlap of the fabric so that it wraps around the body to cover the back (ensuring that if the wearer squats or sits down, the gown still protects the back area of the body).

2. What type of gown is recommended for patients with suspected or conrmed COVID-19?

  • Nonsterile, disposable patient isolation gowns, which are used for routine patient care in healthcare settings, are appropriate for use by patients with suspected or conrmed COVID-19.

3. What types of gowns are available for healthcare personnel to protect from COVID-19?

  • While the transmissibility of COVID-19 is not fully understood, gowns are available that protect against microorganisms. The choice of gown should be made based on the level of risk of contamination. Certain areas of surgical and isolation gowns are dened as “critical zones” where direct contact with blood, body uids, and/or other potentially infectious materials is most likely to occur. (ANSI/AAMI PB70 ).
  • If there is a medium to high risk of contamination and need for a large critical zone, isolation gowns that claim moderate to high barrier protection (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 3 or 4 ) can be used.
  • For healthcare activities with low, medium, or high risk of contamination, surgical gowns (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Levels 1- 4), can be used. These gowns are intended to be worn by healthcare personnel during surgical procedures.
  • If the risk of bodily uid exposure is low or minimal, gowns that claim minimal or low levels of barrier protection (ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 1 or 2 ) can be used. These gowns should not be worn during surgical or invasive procedures, or for medium to high risk contamination patient care activities

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