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Applying Human Factors Approaches to Improve the Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Prevent Transmission of High-Consequence Pathogens

personal protective equipment

More than 600 health care workers died as a result of contracting Ebola Virus Disease while caring for patients during the 2014-15 outbreak. As we learned during the response to the West African Ebola outbreak, the improper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can lead to health care workers' self-contamination and subsequent transmission of high-consequence pathogens. Some of the risk is thought to occur due to self-contamination during the process of doffing PPE. Recommendations for enhanced PPE and instructions for donning and doffing PPE were crafted and disseminated. However, little is known about how clinicians interpret the guidance and the risks associated with the guidance, including the actions during PPE doffing and the structural features of the PPE that increase health care workers' risk for self-contamination.

Our Goals

The purpose of this study is to proactively identify and assess safety risks associated with PPE doffing. We are using infection prevention and human factors approaches and methods to evaluate the best ways for health care workers to doff PPE to prevent self-contamination and the spread of infectious pathogens. Findings will help improve the current recommendations for safe PPE use, thereby helping to reduce occupational hazards for health care workers.

Research Team Members: Lisa Maragakis, Ayse Gurses, Lauren Benishek, Sadaf Kazi, Patience Osei, Peter Pronovost, Jennifer Andonian, Maggie Cantara, Carrie Billman, Elaine Nowakowski, Verna Scheeler, Emily Singeltary, Polly Trexler, Yea-Jen Hsu
Funding Agency: CDC Prevention Epicenters Program
Dates: 9/30/2015 – 9/29/2018

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