NIRPE News

National Patient Safety Alert issued by the NHS 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.

 

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.

 

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 contact 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 these warnings.