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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia State Tests Healthcare Providers’ Protective Equipment Procedures

A strict, detailed removal process for personal protective equipment offers adequate protection for health care providers against dangerous viruses like Ebola, according to a recent study led by a researcher from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University


[Photo: Dr. Lisa Casanova]

The study tested personal protective equipment removal protocols, like the ones formulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a controlled laboratory simulation with surrogate viruses. Fifteen trained healthcare providers—11 registered nurses and four medical doctors—from an Ebola care team at a large academic medical center participated in the simulation in which they put on (donned) and removed (doffed) equipment and were swabbed for virus detection.

“A structured doffing protocol using a trained monitor, double gloves, and multiple glove sanitizing steps appears to protect against self-contamination with enveloped viruses,” the study found.

The study’s results are published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology in an article, titled “Assessment of Self-Contamination During Removal of Personal Protective Equipment for Ebola Patient Care.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Lisa Casanova, assistant professor of environmental health at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

The Ebola virus, which killed more than 11,000 people during the 2014-2015 outbreak in West Africa, spreads through contact with bodily fluids that are produced in high volumes during the acute phase of the disease. Therefore, effective protection requires more personal protective equipment and different items than healthcare providers ordinarily wear, including full-body, fluid-resistant suits and gowns, footwear, respirators and face shields. Proper donning and removal of this equipment involves complex protocols, which require full adherence for maximum protection—especially during removal after patient care, when contamination risk is highest, the study noted.

Dr. Casanova is part of a team of researchers at the Prevention Epicenter of Emory and Atlanta Consortium Hospitals, also known as PEACH, that received a $2.2 million grant from the CDC to discover new methods to protect patients and healthcare workers from highly infectious diseases.

The study’s authors also included Ms. Lisa J. Teal, Dr. Emily E. Sickbert-Bennett, Dr. William A. Rutala and Dr. David J. Weber with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Deverick J. Anderson and Dr. Daniel J. Sexton with Duke University; and the CDC Prevention Epicenters Program.