The American Nurses Association (ANA) released new findings from a nationwide COVID-19 survey that indicate personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages persist and reuse practices for single-use PPE are on the rise, despite a lack of standard practices and evidence of safety.
More than 21,000 U.S. nurses working across many healthcare settings responded to ANA’s latest survey. According to the new findings, 42% of nurses say they are still experiencing widespread or intermittent PPE shortages. Findings on PPE reuse and decontamination showed little improvement. Over half of nurses (58% [+15% from May]) report that they are re-using single-use PPE, like N95 masks, for 5 or more days, and 68% say reuse is required by their facility’s policy. The decontamination of N95 masks is a practice that 38% of nurses say continues. In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ANA does not support the use of decontamination methods as a standard practice.
“Reuse and decontamination of single-use PPE as the ‘new normal’ is unacceptable given the lack of standards and evidence of safety,” said ANA President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Over half of nurses (53%) say that re-using and decontaminating masks makes them feel unsafe.
“These practices contribute to nurses’ burden of mental and emotional stress,” Grant said. “I am deeply distressed that nurses feel unsafe when they are working around the clock to care for patients, educate the public, and protect themselves and their families. We must and we can do better.”
ANA remains committed to supporting and advocating for nurses during this unprecedented global pandemic.
Data were collected between July 24 and August 14, 2020; 21,503 nurses responded. View results online here.