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Protocol to rationalise PPE use by state government

Set of rules prepared following protests by doctors and healthcare workers who alleged shortage of protective gear
Say it with flowers: Flower petals being showered on nurses at SSKM Hospital on International Nurses Day on Tuesday.
Say it with flowers: Flower petals being showered on nurses at SSKM Hospital on International Nurses Day on Tuesday.
Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Kinsuk Basu   |   Calcutta   |   Published 12.05.20, 09:56 PM

The state government has prepared a protocol on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by doctors, nurses and other personnel working in hospitals.

Health department officials said the protocol was prepared after protests by doctors and healthcare workers who alleged shortage of protective gear and also overuse of PPE.

The protocol elaborates who all in a hospital should wear full-set PPE, who can do with only gloves and N-95 masks and who should have their faces covered with a triple-layer medical mask.

The directives have been listed in “Management Protocol for Covid-19”, where different categories of healthcare workers and other employees of hospitals have been identified along with their risk levels.

The protocol also contained a detailed directive on the right technique of wearing and taking off the PPE.

According to the protocol, doctors, nurses and technicians working in pathological laboratories will have to wear full-set PPE, including a head cover, shoe covers, an N-95 mask, gloves, a clean non-sterile cover-all and a long-sleeve gown.

The protocol states that persons operating lifts carrying patients and sanitary staff need not wear full PPE gear. They will only have to wear N-95 masks and gloves.

Doctors and nurses attending to patients with severe acute respiratory infection will have to wear full PPE. Same for doctors, nurses and technicians in critical care units.

For outpatient departments, the protocol says doctors, nurses and technicians will only have to wear N-95 masks and gloves. OPD patients and relatives will have to wear “triple-layer medical mask”.

Healthcare workers handling bodies in mortuaries will have to wear N-95 masks and gloves.

The health department has also issued a set of advisories to private hospitals spelling out that only patients from red zones will have to undergo a Covid-19 test for planned surgeries.

Health officials said the advisory was issued because many patients' relatives were alleging that despite testing negative for Covid-19, healthcare workers were wearing PPE while attending to such patients, leading to a spike in expenses.

The new management protocol will help rationalise the use of PPE around a time when there is shortage of these equipment not just in Bengal but across the country, health officials said.

Many, including doctors, have been making social media posts about the alleged shortage of PPE in Bengal.

Over the past few weeks, several doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19, disrupting services at many medical colleges and hospitals. Doctors and other healthcare workers have alleged that lack of protective gear was responsible for so many of them getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

“The protocol is clear. A doctor treating a patient without severe acute respiratory infection at the emergency ward will not have to wear a full-set PPE,” said an official of the health department. “But if he has to see a patient with the infection (severe acute respiratory infection), he will have to use a full PPE.”

Health department officials expressed the hope that the directive issued to private hospitals would prompt them to refrain from overcharging patients for PPE.



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