PPE what to wear in maternity care poster

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The most up to date UK wide infection and prevention and control guidance can be found here: COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The most recent UK Health Security Agency guidance on Infection prevention and control for seasonal respiratory infections in health and care settings (including SARS-CoV-2) for winter 2021-22 Infection prevention and control for seasonal respiratory infections in health and care settings (including SARS-CoV-2) for winter 2021 to 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) was last updated on 21 December 2021

This guidance emphasises the need for a ‘Hierarchy of controls’ as the basis for individualised risk assessments for healthcare staff when providing care. The hierarchy of controls approach is one developed in industry to provide five key steps of risk assessment and mitigation:

  • Engineering controls.
  • Administrative controls.
  • Personal protective equipment.

It is important that the most effective controls possible are assessed and implemented as far as possible to reduce risk. PPE is defined as the final, least effective approach to protecting the workforce in this hierarchy:


The guidance highlights the decision making process around the type of mask or respiratory protective equipment to be worn by a healthcare practitioner in different situations:

6.5.6 Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)/FFP3 (filtering face piece) or powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) hood

A respirator with an assigned protection factor (APF) 20, that is, an FFP3 respirator (or equivalent), must be worn by staff when:

  • caring for patients with a suspected or confirmed infection spread wholly by the airborne route, such as tuberculosis (TB) (during the infectious period)
  • when performing AGPs on a patient with a suspected or confirmed infection spread wholly or partly by the droplet or airborne route

Where an unacceptable risk of transmission remains following the hierarchy of controls risk assessment, it may be necessary to consider the use of RPE for patient care in specific situations when managing respiratory infectious agents [our emphasis]. The risk assessment should include evaluation of the ventilation in the area, operational capacity, and prevalence of infection/new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in the local area.

This guidance summarises the PPE required for direct care with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection:

6.5.7 Summary of PPE required for direct care of patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection

If there is no direct contact with the patient or their environment, gloves and aprons/gowns are not required.

Table 1: PPE required while providing direct care for patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection

PPE required by type of transmission/exposure

Disposable gloves

Disposable/reusable fluid-resistant apron/gown

FRSM/RPE

Eye/face protection (goggles or visor)

Droplet PPE

Single use

Single use apron or fluid-resistant gown if risk of extensive spraying/splashing

Single use FRSM Type IIR for direct patient care (1)

Single use or reusable (1)

Airborne PPE
(When undertaking or if AGPs are likely) (3)
Or if an unacceptable risk of transmission remains following rigorous application of the hierarchy of controls (4)

Single use

Single use fluid-resistant gown

Single use FFP3 (2) or reusable respirator/powered respirator hood (RPE)

 

 

Country-specific policy and guidance for:

 

 

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