CDC Suggest Workarounds for Securing Ebola-Related PPE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published suggestions to help health care providers secure the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) necessary for treating Ebola patients. On October 20, 2014, the agency issued guidance that included recommendations of specific types of PPE and methods for use by health care workers caring for Ebola patients. Since that guidance issued, an increased demand for PPE has caused problems for providers trying to secure the necessary items.

Alternative PPE

The CDC emphasized in its Best Practices statement that, in circumstances where it has recommended two PPE items or two methods for wearing PPE, either is acceptable. Specifically, the guidance allows for use of either a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), in which a battery-powered blower moves air flow through filters to remove contaminants from the air, or an N95 respirator, which uses a filter that removes at least 95 percent of airborne particles during National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health “worse case” testing using a “most-penetrating” sized particle. Additionally, a single-use, fluid-resistant or impermeable gown extending to at least mid-calf, combined with single use, fluid-resistant or impermeable boot covers that extend to at least mid-calf, is an acceptable alternative to a single-use, fluid-resistant or impermeable coverall.

Workarounds

If a provider cannot access the necessary PPE, the CDC suggests that it:

  • create a plan to share available PPE within health care coalitions, hospitals, and state and local health departments;
  • discuss contract terms, substitute brands, and timelines with group purchasing organizations (GPOs) or health care coalitions to determine if viable substitutes can be offered;
  • alert manufacturers in advance of plans to purchase PPE so that they may increase production;
  • reach out to “non-traditional supply partners,” like industrial distributors and retailers; and
  • accept products in lower-than-requested quantities or with longer delivery times.

Finally, the CDC reminds providers to contact their state health departments for assistance if presented with a suspected or identified case of Ebola.