American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

SAGES Issues Tips on Reuse and Reprocessing of N95s

The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) has released tips regarding the reuse of N95 respirators for health care facilities that may be experiencing shortages of this form of personal protective equipment. The guidelines differentiate between extended use, reuse, and mask reprocessing and decontamination. 

The recommendations noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that N95 mask use (including between patients) can be safe for up to eight hours and encourages wearing a face shield over the N95 to decrease the chances of soiling the mask. Assuming there is no soiling and minimal to no viral contamination to the mask, the CDC suggests that masks can be reused up to five times. SAGES notes that mask decontamination strategies are actively being investigated by the CDC, mask companies, and large academic/industry collaboratives. SAGES further acknowledges that definitive best practices for N95 reuse and reprocessing are still in development and that the methods outlined are options for times of crisis and should not be used routinely if mask supply is sufficient.

National Health Service Issues Updated PPE Guidance

The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) has issued an updated “Guidance: Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.” This document aligns with current evidence and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization guidance on optimizing the supply of PPE and the use of PPE when in short supply.