NHS Issues National Patient Safety Alert for Valved Respirators
A National Patient Safety Alert has been issued by the NHS on the possible infection risk when using valved respirators during surgical and invasive procedures.
- National Patient Safety Alert: PDF
- NHS News: Infection risk Infection risk when using FFP3 respirators with valves or Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) during surgical and invasive procedures
A wide range of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) has been used by staff in healthcare settings throughout the pandemic, including valved FFP3, half mask and full-face mask respirators.
To minimise the risk of infection, the alert asks healthcare providers to revise their use of valved respirators, to ensure they are not used during surgical and invasive procedures, except in very specific circumstances set out in the infection control guidance.
For many years, alongside leading the way in fit testing across the NHS, Full Support Healthcare has been educating healthcare providers about the potential contamination risk of valved respirators – that unvalved respirators should be prioritised due to their two-way filtration, filtering both inhaled and exhaled breath.
While RPE is primarily worn for the safety of the wearer, healthcare workers are often in close proximity with patients who can be in extremely vulnerable states. Given that healthcare workers may also be exposed to numerous different infectious viruses, some of which can spread without visible symptoms, two-way filtration might be required in certain situations to protect the patient from the healthcare provider.
Despite some common infections, such as influenza, having asymptomatic transmission periods, it is only recently with the rise of COVID-19 that people have taken heed of our warnings.
Some RPE providers have responded to the situation by developing ‘shrouded’ valves, which involves covering a valved respirator with a Type II material. This does not filter exhaled air, however, and is only suitable for preventing moisture release from the valve.
For true two-way filtration, healthcare workers require unvalved FFP3 respirators – such as the FSM18 Easimask Custom Fit FFP3 respirator – or our new half-mask respirator, the R200. The only reusable respirator in the UK to have filtered valves, protecting both the user from respiratory hazards in the environment, and the environment from potential hazards in the wearer’s breath.
For more information about the Easimask 200R, click here.