Medical PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is not only useful for medical professionals, but also for the general population as well. The intent of medical PPE is not much different than that of other forms of PPE in that it is used to provide a barrier between something harmful and the human body. However, one of the main differences between basic or industrial PPE and medical PPE, is that medical PPE is designed to provide protection against biohazards such as blood, tissues, viruses, bacteria, etc. Medical professionals use medical PPE while on the job, however, anyone can use medical PPE to obtain protection against unwanted biohazards. For instance, a teacher may use latex gloves when placing a bandage on a student’s bloody knee. Furthermore, during the height of flu season some people may choose to use some sort of face or breathing protection to prevent themselves from becoming infected from breathing in airborne germs.
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Types of Medical PPE
Medical PPE can include many different components such as a face mask, body suit, gloves, and a respirator. The PPE should cover the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and skin to be considered effective. Even though some types of medical PPE may seem fairly durable and acceptable for multiple uses, most forms of medical PPE are designed for a single use only. Reusing medical PPE can be very dangerous and may help to contribute towards the unintended spread of hazardous infectious material. Consider the following situation. An employee working in a lab setting at a local clinic wears multiple pieces of medical PPE for protection. She spends the morning drawing blood, testing tissue samples, and viewing specimen samples under a microscope. She then removes her medical PPE and heads out to lunch. However, when she returns she looks at her gloves and they seem to be clean so she just decides to put them on for further use, not wanting to waste a seemingly fine pair of gloves. This is a big mistake; medical gloves should never be reused. Just as most medical PPE, gloves are intended to be used only once and then thrown away. Many lab technicians go through multiple boxes of gloves per day and that is expected and deemed best practice within most labs. In fact, if a technician was not going through as many gloves as others doing the same job it would be a red flag to managers that the technician may not be using the medical PPE as intended and deemed appropriate. The risk of spreading unwanted biohazard materials is just way too risky.
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Medical PPE is a staple within healthcare facilities and can also be beneficial for others as well. However, differing levels of medical PPE may be used depending upon the situation. Some situations may call for whole body suits with face masks and respirators, while other situations may only warrant the need for a pair of latex gloves. Nonetheless, whatever the situation may be, medical PPE is a helpful and safe solution for protection.