New Respiratory Protection Recommendations
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revised their respiratory protection recommendations based on a significant improvement in the supply of masks and respirators. This directly impacts how you work in the clinical environment.
As of July 6th, non-NIOSH-approved disposable respirators are no longer authorized for use, and a new disposable respirator should be worn for each new patient contact.
This return to best practices is critical for your continued safety. Disposable respirators and surgical masks are manufactured as single-use medical devices. During use, they become soiled on the outside (from exposure to splatter and aerosols) and the inside (from your breath). This impacts the protective filtration quality over time, as airborne microorganisms can penetrate the wet fabric through the process known as wicking. Cross-contamination can also inadvertently occur if the respirator or mask surface comes into contact with a gloved hand.
To ensure you have the protection you need, follow these steps:
- When wearing a surgical N95 respirator, ensure it is FDA-cleared and NIOSH-approved and wear a new one with each and every patient you see.
- When wearing a surgical ear loop mask, ensure it is FDA-cleared and meets the ASTM level standards appropriate for the task at hand. You should also don a new mask after each patient contact.