In healthcare settings, wearing masks is essential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Masks not only protect healthcare workers but also patients and visitors. However, effectively wearing a mask requires some best practices.
1. Properly Fit and Wear the Mask
The mask should be properly fitted to the face, with no gaps between the mask and face. It should also cover the nose and mouth completely. Healthcare professionals must ensure they are wearing the proper masks intended for their specific job function.
2. Perform Hand Hygiene Before and After Handling Masks
It is essential to perform proper hand hygiene before and after handling masks. Health workers must clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before wearing a mask. They should also perform hand hygiene before and after removing the mask.
3. Do Not Touch the Mask
To prevent contamination, the mask should not be touched while wearing it. If adjustments are required, such as adjusting the ear loops or nose bridge, the healthcare worker must perform hand hygiene first before touching the mask.
4. Change/Replace Masks Regularly
Healthcare workers must change or replace the mask regularly. A surgical mask should be replaced after two to four hours of continuous use, depending on the level of moisture. Alternatively, an N95 respirator mask can be worn for extended periods, but it should be replaced if it becomes contaminated, damaged or difficult to breathe through.
5. Discard Used Masks Safely
Healthcare professionals must dispose of used masks safely. Used masks should be immediately discarded in an approved bin, followed by proper hand hygiene.
6. Educational Resources about Putting on, Wearing, and Removing Masks
Employers should provide educational resources for their healthcare staff about putting on, wearing, and removing masks safely. The resources should provide guidelines on how to properly wear a mask and explain why it’s essential for employee safety and patient care.
In summary, wearing masks in healthcare settings is essential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Healthcare workers must properly fit and wear the mask, perform hand hygiene before and after handling masks, not touch the mask, change or replace masks regularly, discard used masks safely, and have access to educational resources about proper mask use.