Originally, face masks were designed to minimize the risk of wound infection for surgical patients by preventing the spread of microorganisms expelled from the nose and mouth of operating room (OR) personnel. Today, confronted with the challenges of new and drug-resistant pathogens, facial protection devices are used in the perioperative practice setting to protect health care workers from a variety of potential bloodborne and inhalation hazards. Furthermore, the proper use of facial protection devices is a key component in the implementation of Standard Precautions in the OR.
The purpose of this continuing nursing education activity is to provide a review of the clinical considerations regarding the appropriate selection and use of facial protection devices in various surgical practice settings. It will provide an overview of the health hazards inherent to the perioperative environment. The various types of facial protection devices available today will be reviewed, followed by a discussion of the relevant regulations and professional recommendations for both the manufacture and use of facial protection devices. Finally, criteria for appropriate selection and use of facial protections devices will be outlined.