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Infection prevention and control guidelines

3. Personal protective equipment

Applying, removing, and disposing of personal protective equipment

      1. Applying, removing, and disposing of personal protective equipment

Last revised: 18 Aug 2023

Applying, removing, and disposing of personal protective equipment

Applying and removing personal protective equipment in the correct order is essential to prevent transmission of infectious disease (Refer to Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care: Sequence for putting on and removing PPE).

Hand hygiene must be performed before putting on personal protective equipment and after removing it. Gloves must always be put on last.

The timing depends on the situation. If full personal protective equipment is required as part of transmission-based precautions, it is put on before entering the patient examination area. Gloves can be put on when entering the patient area.

When the patient has left, gloves are removed, followed by hand hygiene. The gown (unless required for extended use) can be safely removed inside the room, just before exiting. When outside the room, eye protection is removed, followed by respirator mask, unless required for extended use after leaving. Hand hygiene is performed after each item is removed.

Any single-use or extended-use item of personal protective equipment must be removed as soon as it becomes wet or otherwise contaminated. Hand hygiene is required after removing each item.

The appropriate equipment to use, and the method of disposal, will vary according to the situation – not all situations will require disposal into a biohazard/clinical waste bag. If personal protective equipment is not contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms or blood/other body substances, it may be disposed of into the general waste stream. If wet or contaminated with a pathogen, blood or body substances, it must be disposed of via the clinical waste stream. Biohazard bags may be required in some circumstances. (see Waste management)

During a disease outbreak, specific guidance for health professionals on the use and disposal of personal protective equipment is issued by national, state and territory governments.