Whenever you visit any kind of healthcare facility, you will notice that the staff are wearing all kinds of protective clothing. This is actually incredibly important and not just in terms of them protecting themselves but also protecting public health as a whole. This is known as personal protective equipment (PPE) and plays a major role in the healthcare system.
What is PPE?
Essentially, PPE is worn to provide a protective barrier between the wearer and a potentially hazardous material. In healthcare, workers will be dealing with those that have infectious diseases, blood and germs and it is vital that they are able to protect themselves while being able to work efficiently on the patient. Wearing PPE can prevent healthcare workers from becoming sick when helping patients, but it can also help to prevent the spread of diseases and infections beyond healthcare workers too.
As an example, if a healthcare worker was working on a patient but did not have sufficient PPE, they could then become infected with an illness that the patient has. This healthcare worker could then go on to pass this on to a vulnerable patient in the hospital as well as their friends and family at home. This is also why healthcare workers have to change their PPE throughout their shifts, especially items like gloves.
Types of PPE
Following on from this, there are also various different types of PPE and protective workwear that can be worn to provide protection. Face shields and goggles can be worn to prevent fluids and airborne viruses from entering through the eyes while masks can be worn to protect the nose and mouth. There are then scrubs, shoe covers, aprons and gloves that healthcare workers can provide to protect their body and feet from dangerous substances.
Using PPE in Healthcare
It is the responsibility of the employer to provide staff with high-quality PPE and it should always be available for staff. With something as important as public health, this needs to be a priority for any healthcare facility manager. The use of PPE is then based on a risk assessment of each case with the potential for exposure to blood, body fluids and infectious agents. PPE should then be removed after use in order to reduce the chance of cross-contamination – many items can be cleaned or safely disposed of.
PPE plays an incredibly important role in healthcare and protecting public health as a whole. Healthcare workers need to be able to treat people, but they could also be exposing themselves to diseases and infections if they are not careful. Having access to high-quality PPE is essential for those working in healthcare and there needs to be a sufficient supply as healthcare workers can get through a lot even on just one shift.