Survey: PPE Shortages Persist

 In Nurses Weekly

The American Nurses Association (ANA) released new findings from a nationwide COVID-19 survey that indicate personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages persist and re-use 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 health care 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 re-use and decontamination showed little improvement. Over half of nurses (+15% from May) report that they are re-using single-use PPE, like N95 masks, for five 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 CDC, ANA does not support the use of decontamination methods as a standard practice.

 

“Re-use and decontamination of single-use PPE as the ‘new normal’ is unacceptable,” explained ANA President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, “given the lack of standards and evidence of safety.”

 

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,” said Grant. “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. ANA’s immediate calls-to-action for the administration and Congress to address the insufficient supply of PPE for nurses in many areas of the country include:

 

  • Full use of the Defense Production Act to increase the domestic production of PPE
  • Passage of the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act of 2020 (or other legislation that reflects its goals)
  • Expanded investment in testing and public heath infrastructure

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