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Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) helps to significantly increase its effectiveness and reduce contamination. However, according to a 2015 study, over half of health workers fail to remove used PPE properly, and only 17% in the study removed their PPE in the correct order and used the best method of disposal. We’ve put together this list of the best practices for “doffing” (removing) PPE in 2022.

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CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has regularly-updated, comprehensive instructions on how to take off PPE equipment, including downloadable posters and fact sheets on various types of PPE.

The CDC’s guidelines consist of two main types of recommendations: how to properly prepare the setting for PPE removal and the best practices for removing the PPE itself, in the form of a carefully ordered list with detailed instructions on how to remove each piece of PPE.

When it’s time to remove PPE at the end of a clinical procedure or examination, it’s important to move to a designated contamination zone as far from the patient as possible in the same room. There must be a clinical waste bin and a hand sanitizing station available for PPE removal.

The CDC also recommends performing hand hygiene between each step if hands become contaminated, and immediately after removing all PPE. Hand hygiene is crucial at any high-risk step or if contamination has occurred.

Learn more about choosing PPE: Five Factors to Consider When Choosing PPE

Best practices for removing (“doffing”) PPE

While removing PPE, it is important to avoid contaminating the wearer or the wearer’s environment as the equipment is removed. The outside or “front-facing” parts of most PPE are the parts that should be treated as contaminated, regardless of how visibly clean they may appear.

1. Remove gloves.

It is important that removing gloves does not cause the wearer to contaminate the hands, so the outside of the gloves should be treated as contaminated. The CDC recommends the following technique for removing gloves:

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2. Remove gown.

When taking off a gown, the front and all parts of the sleeves should be considered contaminated. Gently undo the bottom closure, followed by the top closure. Some gowns can be slipped off at this point, or rolled down. For others it is necessary to untie all ties (or unsnap all buttons).

Then, ensuring that your sleeves don’t come in contact with your body, slip the hands under the neck of the gown. reach upwards towards the shoulders of the gown and pull it down and away from the body. Be sure not to touch the outside of the gown. Turn it inside out and discard the bundled gown into the clinical waste bin.

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3. It is now safe to exit the patient’s room.

4. Hand hygiene should be performed after leaving the room.

5. Remove face shield or goggles.

The front of the eyewear should be treated as contaminated. With ungloved and sanitized hands, grab the headband or arms of the face shield or goggles. Carefully pull the eyewear upwards and away from the face, without touching the front of the protective shield.

If disposable, not discard the eyewear into a clinical waste bin. If they may be reused, place them in a designated disinfection container.

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6. Remove respirator.

Respirators should always be removed outside a patient’s room, after the door has been securely closed. The front of the respirator should be treated as contaminated. Lift the bottom strap of the respirator over the head, making sure to touch only the strap itself. Grasp the top elastic and lift it carefully over the head to avoid snapping. Pull the respirator away from the face without touching the front of the respirator. Discard the respirator in a designated receptacle.

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7. Remove face mask.

Similar to the respirator, the front of the face mask should be treated as contaminated. Careful untie or unhook the bottom ties or elastic followed by the top, and pull away from the face without touching the front. Discard the face mask into a clinical waste bin.

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8. Final hand hygiene.

Perform thorough hand hygiene: after applying hand sanitizer, rub the palms together and then the back of each hand. Rub between the fingers, down to the webbing. Rub fingernails on the palm of the opposite hand. Rub sanitizer around each thumb and down onto the wrists.

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Identifying PPE capacity

It is vital that health care facilities fully understand their current PPE inventory, supply chain, and utilization rate. Following a checklist throughout the week can help ensure staff is aware of current PPE capacity. Checklist items might include:

  1. The inventory at the beginning of the week.
  2. Whether additional PPE supplies are received and how many.
  3. The inventory at the end of the week.
  4. Whether there is enough supply to allow staff to continue to dispose of single-use PPE.

If you need additional help, the NIOSH PPE Tracker app is a helpful tool that can help track PPE inventory.

Now that you know the best practices for removing PPE, don’t forget to ensure that your community, family or workplace is prepared and in compliance with the CDC’s latest guidelines by stocking up on NIOSH-certified respirators. Companies and healthcare providers nationwide trust MediDent Supplies for their face covering and virus testing supplies.

Purchasing in bulk? Contact our experienced team for wholesale orders.