Environmental and Personal Protective Equipment Contamination during Simulated Healthcare Activities

Source: Rachel T Weber, Linh T Phan, Charissa Fritzen-Pedicini, Rachael M Jones, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Advance Articles, June 4, 2019
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From the abstract:
Providing care to patients with an infectious disease can result in the exposure of healthcare workers (HCWs) to pathogen-containing bodily fluids. We performed a series of experiments to characterize the magnitude of environmental contamination—in air, on surfaces and on participants—associated with seven common healthcare activities. The seven activities studied were bathing, central venous access, intravenous access, intubation, physical examination, suctioning and vital signs assessment. HCWs with experience in one or more activities were recruited to participate and performed one to two activities in the laboratory using task trainers that contained or were contaminated with fluorescein-containing simulated bodily fluid. Fluorescein was quantitatively measured in the air and on seven environmental surfaces. Fluorescein was quantitatively and qualitatively measured on the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by participants. A total of 39 participants performed 74 experiments, involving 10–12 experimental trials for each healthcare activity. Healthcare activities resulted in diverse patterns and levels of contamination in the environment and on PPE that are consistent with the nature of the activity. Glove and gown contamination were ubiquitous, affirming the value of wearing these pieces of PPE to protect HCW’s clothing and skin. Though intubation and suctioning are considered aerosol-generating procedures, fluorescein was detected less frequently in air and at lower levels on face shields and facemasks than other activities, which suggests that the definition of aerosol-generating procedure may need to be revised. Face shields may protect the face and facemask from splashes and sprays of bodily fluids and should be used for more healthcare activities.