Research/studies Respiratory protection Health care/social assistance

NIOSH: Health care workers not using respiratory protection correctly

Washington – Many health care professionals do not know when to wear respiratory protection, what type is needed in certain scenarios and how to use the equipment properly, according to a recent NIOSH study.

The study included 98 hospitals and more than 1,500 health care workers and managers. Researchers watched staff put on and take off respiratory protection and quizzed staff on what to do in six scenarios.

Overall, researchers said, health care workers were knowledgeable about recommended protection when it came to patients requiring droplet precautions, which aim to reduce the transmission of infectious agents through coughing, sneezing or talking. But workers showed a lack of knowledge in other scenarios, including close contact or aerosol-generating procedures on patients with measles, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that required airborne precautions.

Proper technique also posed challenges for health care workers, as 45 percent used incorrect strap placement and 85 percent did not perform a seal check.

The lack of proper knowledge could put the well-being of health care workers at risk, researchers said.