A method for evaluating health care workers' personal protective equipment technique

Elizabeth L. Beam, Shawn G. Gibbs, Kathleen C. Boulter, Marcia E. Beckerdite, Philip W. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background: Given the potential for the transfer of infectious diseases among patients in isolation, health care workers (HCWs), and other patients in the hospital environment, the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is paramount. The literature is limited regarding studies of HCWs' use of PPE in patient care tasks. Methods: A pilot study was conducted to examine the feasibility of using a simulated health care environment to assess HCWs' technique when implementing standard airborne and contact isolation precautions. The participants (n = 10) were assigned patient care tasks based on their specific professional roles. The encounters were digitally recorded during donning and doffing of PPE, as well as during interactions with the simulated patient. Powdered fluorescent marker was used as a measure of contamination. Results: The pilot data show various inconsistencies in the HCWs' PPE technique. Each of the 10 participants committed at least one breach of standard airborne and contact isolation precautions. Conclusion: An expanded research study of HCW behaviors is needed to properly examine these contamination and exposure pathways. Training programs should be developed that emphasize the common errors in HCWs' PPE technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-420
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Infection control
  • contamination
  • patient care
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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