Most healthcare workers don't follow personal protective equipment-removal rules

Fewer than 15 percent of healthcare workers comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations for removing personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a study from the American Journal of Infection Control. Correct removal is crucial to reduce contamination from emerging pathogens like the Ebola virus.

The CDC's recommendations call for healthcare workers to remove their gloves first and then gently remove their gowns from the back before leaving the patient's isolation room.

But researchers from the University of Wisconsin said few follow the guidelines. The team observed 30 physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, and other healthcare professionals entering and leaving patient rooms on five different hospital units at various times during the week in late October of 2014. Seventeen removed their gowns out of order, while 16 wore PPE out of the room and into the hallway and 15 were not gentle in removing their gowns, increasing the risk of their clothes picking up pathogens from the gowns, according to the study.

"As a result of the current Ebola outbreak, the critical issue of proper PPE removal has come front and center," the authors wrote. "Healthcare facilities should use this opportunity of heightened interest to undertake practice improvement focused on PPE removal protocol, including technique, for all healthcare-associated conditions that require the donning and doffing of PPE."

The CDC revised its emergency department recommendations in 2014 in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as concerns over the possible spread of the virus in the United States, including recommendations on PPE such as face shields and gloves.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract