Choosing the right mask for each surgical and procedural situation has never been more important, for three key reasons:
- The risk of facial exposure to blood, bodily fluids, secretions and excretions.
- Today’s clinical emphasis on reducing healthcare-associated infections.
- The renewed focus on patient and staff safety, as well as quality initiatives. A catalyst
- for this effort has been the rise of new pathogens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (the “super bugs”).
To help address these challenges, the purpose of masks has evolved over time. Originally, they were developed to minimize the risk of patient wound infection due to microorganisms transmitted from clinicians via coughs, sneezes and droplets.
Today’s masks are intended to protect both patients and clinicians from several risks, including:
- New and drug-resistant pathogens transmitted by patient blood or other bodily fluids.
- Smoke plume that can contain toxic chemicals and other irritants.
- Particulate contaminants that include dust expelled by high-speed devices.
In particular, one of the exposure risks is to blood borne pathogens, including HIV, HBV, HVC and others. This risk impacts 5.6 million healthcare workers,2 and it’s one of the top five causes of injury among them.3
In fact, blood or blood products are involved in 63 percent of exposure incidents.4 Twenty-six percent of OR blood exposures are to the heads and necks of scrubbed personnel,5 while 59 percent of blood and bodily fluid exposures are among experienced OR doctors.6 Seventeen percent of blood exposures occur with circulating personnel outside the sterile field.7 Yet, 76 percent of OR directors make procedure instead of surgical masks available for OR staff.8