Nurse Education – Cloth Masks Compared to Medical Masks

Nurse Education – Cloth Masks Compared to Medical Masks

Have you ever thought about the  effectiveness of cloth face masks which are still  used in many countries throughout the world? In high resource settings, disposable medical masks and respirators have long since replaced the use of cloth masks in hospitals. Yet cloth masks remain widely used globally, including in Asian countries, which have historically been affected by emerging infectious diseases, as well as in West Africa, in the context of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).The use of facemasks and respirators for the protection of healthcare workers (HCWs) has received renewed interest following the 2009 influenza pandemic, and emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-coronavirus) and Ebola virus.

There is a really interesting research article enclosed for your interest published in the open access BMJ 2015  which  aimed to compare the efficacy of cloth masks to medical masks in hospital healthcare workers (HCWs). “Historically, various types of cloth/ cotton masks (referred to here after as ‘cloth masks’) have been used to protect HCWs. Disposable medical/surgical masks (referred to here after as ‘medical masks’) were introduced into healthcare in the mid 19th century, followed later by respirators.”

In the study  “participants wore the mask on every shift for four consecutiveweeks. Participants in the medical mask arm were supplied with two masks daily for each 8 h shift,while participants in the cloth mask arm were provided  with 5 masks in total for the study duration which they were asked to wash and rotate over the study period.

 Masks used in the study were locally manufactured medical (three layer, made of non-woven material) or cloth masks (two layer, made of cotton) commonly used in Vietnamese hospitals.  Mask wearing was measured and documented for all participants.

This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.”

The Nurses for Nurses Network has a great range of Nursing Education and Nursing activities related to Infection Control The sessions are focused on Nurses who need to know about  Nursing Practice  in the ‘real world’ where Nurses are often time poor and resource limited!


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