During outbreaks and pandemics, such as COVID-19 or influenza, appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand hygiene are critical in protecting yourself, your practice team members and your patients and preventing further of viruses.
This video outline how to apply, remove and dispose of PPE safely, and how to sanitise your hands.
Dr Penny Burns, FRACGP
Dr Jonathan Adams, FRACGP
It's important when seeing any patient with an infectious disease that you keep yourself safe and you can do this by using PPE or personal protective equipment. To do this you need to sanitise your hands. You need to put on a gown, put on a mask, put on protective eyewear and gloves. It's important that you put this on in a clean zone away from where you're going to be removing the PPE and it's really important that you take your time to do this because you need to protect yourself. Hand hygiene, also known hand sanitising, can be performed using an alcohol base sanitiser product or hand-washing using soap and water. The proper order when performing hand hygiene with an alcohol-based sanitiser is to firstly rub your palms together. Then rub the back of each hand. Rub between your fingers ensuring you get all the way down to the webbing. Rub your fingernails on the opposite palm. Rub around each thumb and finally finish by rubbing the sanitiser over your entire wrist. Now that your hands are disinfected, pick up the gown and put your arms through it. You'll want to ensure that the gown covers the front of your body from your neck to your knees and wrists. Secure any ties, velcro tabs or closures around your neck and waist. There are two different types of masks that can be used as PPE. A basic surgical mask is used for contact and droplet precautions. To put on a surgical mask, make sure the thin metal wire is positioned at the top. Holding it by the straps or ties, place over your face and secure it. If your mask has elastic straps like this one, they go over each year. Other masks may have an upper tie that should be secured above the ears on the middle of the head, and a lower tie that goes below your ears around your neck. Ensure the top of the mask is covering your entire nose and apply pressure to the metal wire to mold it to the bridge of your nose. Extend the bottom of the mask to cover your chin. The mass should fit snugly. Check this by breathing deeply, The mass should not flap. A P2/N95 mask provides a higher level of protection than a basic surgical mask and is used when airborne precautions are required. To put on a P2/N95 mask, first select a mask that fits you well. Holding the mask with the metal strip face up, pull out both straps. Tuck the bottom of the mask under your chin and cover your nose. Stretch the straps behind your head placing one above the ears and one below. Take your fingers and press down on the metal strip to mold it to the bridge of your nose. Press around the edges of the mask too, in order to ensure a seal against your cheeks and face. The mask should fit tightly and be sealed all the way around. Check the seal by breathing in and out while placing your hands along the top and sides of the mask. You should not be able to feel any air leakage and the mask should be drawn in when inhaling, If you notice a leak or cannot achieve a good seal, adjust the mask as needed or try a different style or size of mask. Please note that it can be difficult to guarantee a good seal if you have facial hair. People with facial hair should consider shaving before using a P2/N95 mask. After you've correctly put your mask on you should place your protective eye wear over your eyes and adjust them to fit. Try not to move your mask while doing so. If you do, you should recheck it fits again. Finally repeat hand hygiene. Place your gloves on your hands making sure that both gloves extend over the wrists of the gown. It's important to know that after putting on your gloves you should not touch your face or mouth or adjust your eyewear or mask further, especially when near the patient or after the examination. Avoid touching any other objects. Make a final check that everything is in place. You've now correctly donned your PPE.