Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines for Health Care Facility Staff

The American College of Emergency Physicians (2016). Annals of Emergency Medicine 68(3). pp. 406-407

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes a critical component of emergency preparedness is for health care facility staff to use personal protective equipment (PPE) that is appropriate to protect themselves, patients, and others from chemical, biological, and radiologic elements Decisions about what type of PPE to use and when it should be used should be made only after thorough analysis of all available information. Guidance should then be appropriately reassessed and modified to ensure consistency with evolving information.

Hospitals have standard precautions for blood-borne and respiratory pathogens, but these may not necessarily protect against every hazardous exposure. At present, there is little available evidence to help determine the level of PPE needed for health care facility staff in every situation.

Essential protective measures depend heavily on the location of the decontamination area, the role of the health care facility in the community response to hazardous material incidents, and the hazard vulnerability analysis. Critical priorities include ensuring the safety of the health care facility staff, ensuring continuity of health care facility operations up to and including a possible determination for appropriately controlled hospital access, and providing initial triage and treatment for contaminated or exposed or potentially contaminated patients arriving at the health care facility and seeking treatment.

Key elements in the selection process for appropriate PPE levels and decontamination facilities include the following:

  • Forming strategic partnerships with response agencies, professional associations, accrediting bodies, governmental agencies, and others

  • Performing a hospital hazard vulnerability analysis consistent with community threats

  • Determining initial and ongoing training requirements and equipment needs appropriate to the PPE level required at a facility, meeting at least current essential standards as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with consideration to other federal regulating and credentialing agencies, such as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other response agency partnerships

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