Health-care workers' SARS protective clothing systems

Kingston, Ont. -- Health-care workers who don protective clothing to stave-off infection from threats such as SARS, other emerging infectious diseases, and bio-terrorism are still vulnerable to contamination, a Queen's University study has found.

"The strengths and limitations of each protective system need to be considered when recommendations are made about which choice of system, donning and removal procedures and decontamination procedures are optimal," says Queen's University anesthesiologist Jorge E. Zamora, lead author of the study.

Released today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ http://www.cmaj.ca/ ), the study compares two kinds of recommended protective clothing systems and found that one kind of protective gear leaves health-care workers prone to contamination at their forearms, wrists, hands and necks. Another more elaborate ensemble, while proving more protective, was time-consuming for these workers to don and remove without making procedural errors an important consideration, as workers must change after performing specific procedures on patients.

The studied protective gear is recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to protect health-care workers performing high-risk procedures in patients affected by diseases, such as SARS, that are transmitted via aerosols or respiratory droplets.

"This study provides us with a valuable first step in the examination of the relative effectiveness of protective clothing systems used by health-care workers. Future attempts to optimize health-care workers' protective clothing should involve efforts to find a solution to the different levels of protection associated with specific systems and to improve decontamination procedures," says Dr. Zamora.

He and fellow Queen's researchers John Murdoch, Brian Simchison, and Andrew G. Day, had th

Contact: Sarah Withrow
Queen's University

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