Christine McCormick 11/20/20 2:13 PM 10 min read

Personal Protective Equipment. What is it and Who Needs it?

If you have spent any time online, watching television, or looking at any other form of media over the past few months, you have probably heard people talking about PPE. While many people are familiar with the term “PPE,” there are many who are not quite sure what PPE is and why it is so important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is PPE?

PPE, or personal protective equipment, refers to any equipment that individuals can wear to minimize their exposure to harmful substances, materials, or other hazards.

In the United States, PPE is usually classified into one of the following categories:

  • Eye and face protection
  • Hand protection
  • Body protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Respiratory protection

There are countless different types of PPE that fall under each category. Here are some of the most common forms of personal protective equipment that individuals might need to wear or use to protect themselves while working:

Eye and face protection

  • Face shields
  • Googles
  • Safety glasses

Hand protection

  • Latex and nylon gloves
  • Insulated gloves
  • Chemical resistant gloves

Body protection

  • Hazmat suits
  • Helmets
  • Barrier coats
  • Shoe booties
  • Lab coats
  • Aprons
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Work boots
  • Gowns

Hearing protection

  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs

Respiratory protection

  • Half and full mask respirators
  • Surgical masks
  • N95- respirators

In fields where employees are exposed to environmental dangers and other hazards, this PPE can be essential for preventing hearing and vision loss, bodily harm, and even death.

 

Who Needs Personal Protective Equipment?

PPE is frequently used, and often required, in a variety of industries to protect people whose health and safety would otherwise be at risk.

This is especially true for healthcare workers and other people working in the healthcare industry during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as patients under investigation (PUIs).

Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers are not able to remain socially distant when providing patient care, and they often perform aerosol-generating procedures like intubations, bronchoscopies, extubations, and transport of PUIs. This puts them at high risk for COVID-19, which is spread through infectious droplets and aerosols.

Healthcare workers and patients who might have COVID-19 need PPE because personal protective equipment offers some protection against these aerosols and droplets.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, PPE serves as a “barrier between an individual’s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes and viral and bacterial infections.” As such, it is crucial that healthcare workers and patients who might potentially spread COVID-19 have the PPE they need to stay safe and minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure.

Healthcare workers and patients under investigation need adequate PPE in order to protect themselves and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

When patients either have confirmed cases of COVID-19 or they might potentially have COVID-19, they should wear a face mask when receiving care from physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

Healthcare workers should have access to N95 face masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, and respirators when they are working in the hospital and conducting procedures that generate aerosols.

Because airborne particulates of COVID-19, and other contagious airborne diseases, can linger and affect those who come in contact, PPE is essential for everyone who is working or receiving care in a hospital or healthcare facility. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, it is not enough for only healthcare workers to receive PPE.

Personal protective equipment is vital for:

  • Employees providing cleaning services at hospitals
  • Healthcare professionals providing patient care
  • Patients under investigation (PUIs)
  • Individuals visiting hospital patients
  • Any individual, healthcare worker or otherwise, who enters the hospital room of a person who is suspected to have COVID-19

Unfortunately, because the need for PPE is so high, it can also be difficult for hospitals and healthcare facilities to provide enough adequate PPE for those who need it.

 

PPE Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Because healthcare workers are at high risk for COVID-19, they need PPE to stay safe while on the job, especially when they are performing procedures that significantly reduce their exposure to potentially infectious aerosols, like intubations.

However, because of the increased demand for personal protective equipment from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation faced a massive PPE shortage.

Hospitals were forced to turn to outside sources, like GetPPE.org, in order to try to get the masks, gloves, face shields, respirators, and other equipment they needed (and still need) to continue caring for patients. Even though these organizations were able to help, many hospitals still find themselves facing dire situations due to a lack of adequate PPE:

  • Healthcare workers in hospitals across the nation have to reuse their PPE or decontaminate their PPE multiple times per week
  • Patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 are unable to see their loved ones or receive any patient visits while they are in the hospital
  • Healthcare workers providing aerosol-generating procedures to patients with COVID-19 are at high risk for COVID-19
  • Patients have to wait for care due to blockage and minimized hospital throughput
  • Healthcare workers are forced to practice triage in order to care for as many individuals as possible
  • Hospital employees, healthcare workers, patients, and hospital visitors are at risk when entering hospital rooms or visiting areas where patients under investigation are being transported

These are just a few of the many issues stemming from an alarming lack of PPE in hospitals during this pandemic. As the United States heads into a second, and far more severe, wave of COVID-19, hospitals need additional protective equipment to serve as a solution that will help them keep their healthcare workers and patients safe amidst PPE shortages.

 

Additional Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers need a better solution than standard PPE when they are fighting exposure to COVID-19 and providing treatment and care for patients.

Patients under investigation and those receiving care for COVID-19 need a solution that allows them to see their families and receive life-giving visits while they fight to get well.

That is why SCONE™ Medical Solutions created the SCONE™, a medical device that provides an additional layer of protection for healthcare workers and patient visitors.

The SCONE™ is a single-use, disposable, device that uses negative pressure technology to create an active barrier between patients and healthcare workers or hospital visitors. With the SCONE™, infectious COVID-19 particulates are cleared in under 5-minutes, allowing healthcare workers to perform aerosol-generating procedures with minimal risk and making it safer for families to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

The SCONE™ reduces COVID-19 risk during patient transport, helps maximize hospital throughput, and significantly reduces the need for multiple PPE changes throughout the day. In this way, hospitals who use the SCONE™ can still ensure excellent care despite rampant PPE shortages across the nation.

 

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Christine McCormick

Christine McCormick is an Operations and Marketing Manager with 10 years of experience working alongside and supporting leadership teams from various industries. She is new to the medical device space but brings a wealth of organizational, financial, and marketing expertise to SCONE in her current role. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated with a Bachelors from Northern Arizona University and currently lives with her high school sweetheart and their 3 children, ages 6-12 years old. She enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach and Disneyland (when it's open), and watching Grey's Anatomy on repeat.