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Navigating Protective Measures: Reinforcing Infection Prevention Through Strategic Respiratory Protection Amid a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic unearthed the vulnerability of global health systems in managing the rapid dissemination of an unknown infectious disease. This issue was exacerbated by the insufficient supply of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respiratory protective devices.

In response to this crisis, an advisory panel consisting of seasoned healthcare professionals from various specialties, including Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety, Infection Prevention, and Nursing, gathered to investigate issues and strategies associated with the choice and use of respiratory protective devices.

The following were the recommendations proposed by the panel: 1) Clear communication of alternative selection and usage recommendations for respiratory protection in accordance with US regulatory and agency guidance is necessary; 2) It is critical to foster collaboration between Infection Prevention, Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety, clinical staff, supply chain/material management, emergency preparedness, executive leadership, and finance; 3) Adequate stockpiling, regular inventory turnover, and offering diverse options for respiratory protection that can cater to the majority of healthcare workers, is essential; 4) Efficient and innovative strategies to communicate changing regulatory, agency, and facility recommendations, and to provide appropriate training on respiratory protection; and 5) There is a need for further research on respiratory protection use—including filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) as well as other types of reusable respirators—to balance infection prevention best practices with a sustainable process.

The panel also developed a communication framework, SAARA, to help streamline guidance, policy, education, and crucial information to a broad spectrum of individuals within the healthcare sector.

Overall, the panel’s discussion highlighted the need for effective strategies in several areas, including respiratory protection selection and usage, interdepartmental collaboration for worker health and safety, communicating dynamic guidance, providing training, and continuing research to balance sustainable processes with infection prevention best practices.

Source: https://www.dovepress.com/respiratory-protection-lessons-learned-from-a-global-pandemic-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-RMHP

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