What kind of PPE do you wear in ICU?

It depends what we are doing and on the patient. In the ICU ward, we have ‘clean’ zones and ‘dirty’ zones. The clean zone is the nurse’s station and areas over two metres from patients’ beds. In this area we wear surgical face masks, plastic aprons, and gloves.

What do you wear in the ‘dirty’ zones in ICU?

Full PPE is required when seeing patients in ‘dirty’ zones of the ICU. This includes: surgical gowns, an FFP3 respirator, eye protection, two layers of gloves and arm gauntlets. Donning and doffing are carried out according to Public Health England guidelines and is carried out in designated areas.

What do you do with used PPE?

All ‘clean’ zone PPE is single-use and directly disposed of in infectious waste bins. When doffing full PPE from the ‘dirty’ zone, the gloves, respirator and gauntlets is also disposed of in infectious waste bins. Surgical gowns are placed in an alginate bag (a bag for infectious laundry) and then inside a laundry bag in a box by the patient’s bed. Eye protection (goggles or glasses) are directly placed in disinfectant, and are cleaned before re-use

Are there any ways you feel you could reduce infection pathway risks related to PPE?

Public Health England recommend using long gloves (up to elbow level), however due to shortages we are currently using surgical gloves and gauntlets. Using long gloves would remove a stage in our donning and doffing process and therefore secure an infection pathway.

Where possible, our trust sources single-use PPE as it is easier, safer and more reliable than disinfecting reusables.

How have you been affected by PPE shortages?

Fortunately, our hospital does not have the shortage problems that are reported in others in the country – we have sufficient PPE to safely provide treatment. There is more careful distribution of PPE than before the outbreak of COVID-19, but this is mainly to ensure reliable access to equipment.