Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) are specialized clothing or equipment mostly worn by Health Care Worker (HCW) to protect against acquiring infectious agents from patients in the health care setting. It also protects patients from Health care workers (HCW) and visitors. The emergence of infectious diseases have increased the use of PPES such as examination gloves, face shields, goggles, N95, surgical masks and the like among the general public.
In an attempt to protect ourselves from infectious agents, some end up infecting themselves through contaminated PPEs. Most times, this occurs during the removal and handling of contaminated PPEs. The technique of donning and doffing of all kinds of PPEs should be learnt before using them. Hand hygiene should precede the wearing of any type of PPE and should be repeated when PPEs are removed.
PPEs provides barriers to protect the eyes, nose, mouth, skin, feet and clothing from direct contact with a patient’s body fluids (e.g. blood, vomit, urine, faeces, sweat, pus) .Based on risk assessment of type and duration of exposure to body fluids in a procedure, appropriate PPEs should be selected. Consumption patterns of PPEs should always be carried out in order to inform management of hospitals to enable them plan adequately.
There are three types of gloves. These are: sterile gloves (surgical and gynaecological). Examination gloves (nitrile, latex, vinyl) and utility gloves (household, heavy duty, elbow operated). These types come in various sizes and forms such as latex, nitrile and vinyl. The latex type is predominant in the health care facility but there are few percentage of staff who react to it. Such personnel may need to use the nitrile type. The vinyl is most frequently used in the catering industry.
This type of glove is used for aseptic procedures such as catheterization, surgical operations, canalization, dressing of wounds etc. All HCWs should apply the technique in wearing sterile glove to avoid contamination prior to an aseptic procedure.
This type of glove is not sterile but clean and is therefore used for clinical procedures such as injection administration, setting of intravenous infusion, removal of naso-gastric tube, etc.
These are used for household chores like cleaning and disinfection. The heavy duty utility gloves are used for activities such as waste management. Decontamination of utility gloves should be performed after every use.
Gloves are used to protect one’s hand from coming into direct contact with blood and other body fluid exposure. Gloves are the last PPEs to be worn just before a procedure is carried out. However, gloves are the first PPE to come out (doff) after a procedure. This is used to prevent the spread of pathogens from health care workers, surfaces, fomites and other patient’s surroundings etc. to patients. For this reason, HCW are not to be seen running around in gloves. HCWs should be mindful of the act of wearing gloves to touch surfaces including pens, keyboards, pick items from set trays among others that will result in glove contamination before the start of a procedure on a patient.