Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been an unprecedented level of interest in personal protective equipment across all sectors. Although one would expect that to mean that customers are better informed than ever about the advantages and disadvantages of various products and the standards and regulations that govern them, several realities have also come to light:
- To profit from the scarcity of PPE, many unqualified companies have entered the market and are producing PPE of questionable quality.
- The skyrocketing cost of PPE paired with the urgency of the need have led to some questionable purchasing decisions in all sectors.
- The easing of certain regulations and standards during the pandemic has allowed lower-quality PPE to enter the market.
Knowing that the demand for PPE remains high, the Medicom team wants to share our infection control expertise to help you avoid some of the common mistakes customers make when purchasing items such as medical masks, gloves and gowns and make sound purchasing decisions that ensure reliable protection for you, your staff and your patients.
In this article, two of our senior account managers, Bryce Hough and Marel De Jesus, share the 3 most common mistakes to avoid when purchasing PPE.
Mistake number 1: Taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach
When it comes to purchasing protective equipment, buyers often order one size product for all their employees. However, as Bryce points out, people come in all shapes and sizes and so should PPE. “Customers often forget that when it comes to items like masks, gloves and gowns, sizing is a key factor in ensuring compliance and effectiveness. Although many companies sell these items as one size fits all or don’t emphasize the availability of different sizes, it is important to choose products that are available in a variety of sizes to ensure that everyone is well protected. In fact, when a person wears equipment that is too large or too small, the risk of contracting an infection or virus is significantly higher because the product is not being used in accordance with its certification.”
Choosing the right size of N95 respirator is especially important
While most adult surgical and procedure masks are one size fits all, N95 respirators are not. Designed to provide a very tight seal against the wearer’s face, a respirator that is not properly fitted cannot prevent biological fluids, sprays, splashes and airborne particles from entering.
Several tools are available to help healthcare personnel choose the right respirator size. The Medicom size guide contains three templates (small, medium and large). Choosing the right size of N95 Architect Pro surgical respirator helps ensure the creation of a leak-proof seal against the wearer’s face and thereby provide optimal respiratory protection.
Size is also an important factor when choosing medical gloves and gowns. Gloves that are too large can allow fluids and debris to enter, can snag on medical instruments and significantly reduce tactile sensitivity, a major consideration for any healthcare professional. Conversely, gloves that are too small can tear more easily, cause muscle fatigue and even trigger injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
When it comes to medical gowns, they must allow adequate freedom of movement without exposing the wearer to potential contaminants. A well-fitting gown means that the back opening provides adequate coverage, that the neck opening comes up high enough and that the sleeves are long enough to protect the wearer’s forearms and wrists and forearm. A gown that is too tight, too loose, too short or too long increases the risk of exposure and cross-contamination both during medical procedures and when removing the gown.
In summary, effective PPE is well-fitting PPE, so size does matter.
Mistake number 2: Buying from a fly-by-night manufacturer
In the early days of the pandemic, PPE was in short supply. As demand began to surpass available supply from reputable manufacturers, companies and individuals were eager to profit from the situation and began producing various items, especially face masks. However, many of these newcomers had no prior medical device manufacturing experience and no knowledge of the regulatory requirements intended to ensure their effectiveness. In the case of masks, many did not provide adequate protection against virus transmission and some even contained potentially harmful materials that put wearers’ health further at risk.
That’s why it is critical to purchase personal protective equipment from knowledgeable and experienced manufacturers that not only understand and adhere to all regulatory requirements and quality standards, but also one that uses high-quality raw materials, state-of-the art manufacturing techniques and stringent quality controls to ensure that these critical items are effective and reliable.
READ OUR LATEST ARTICLE: WITH YOUR HEALTH AT STAKE, HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR N95 OR 95PFE-L2 IS FAKE?
Marel De Jesus points out that dealing with a company with extensive infection control expertise is essential. Not only can you buy with confidence that you and your colleagues and patients will be protected, but you can also get advice from their knowledgeable team about which products are best suited to your needs and preferences. For example, doctors and nurses, dentists and laboratory researcher have very different working conditions and therefore different personal protection equipment needs,” she explains.
Finally, buying a supplier that can trace the source of all its raw materials provides an extra layer of protection in the event of a recall that is potentially related to one of its products. That is why Medicom maintains meticulous records of where each of our materials comes from and where they were shipped and sold worldwide. This provides our customers with additional assurance that our raw materials are sourced from only the most reliable suppliers.
Mistake number 3: Overemphasizing price
In Marel’s experience, purchasing strategies for personal protective equipment are often price-driven due to the financial constraints customers face. However, buying based solely on price can have financial implications that are often overlooked.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the vulnerability of healthcare workers. Inadequately protected personnel led to countless prolonged absences, resulting in significant productivity loss and labour shortages. Similarly, inadequately protected patients who caught the virus required expensive treatment, particularly those who ended up in an ICU. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”
Finally, there is a social cost to buying inferior-quality PPE. Employees who feel unprotected or inadequately protected are likely to feel dissatisfied, especially in the context of a health crisis. “Too often, cost trumps the safety and comfort of healthcare staff. Clinics that provide their employees with safe, effective and comfortable masks, gloves and gowns score points in terms of staff satisfaction and loyalty. “It is immediately apparent when we are dealing with a workplace that truly cares about its workers,” affirms Bryce. “Providing quality personal protective equipment increases the sense of belonging, which is a huge benefit, especially in the context of today’s labour shortages and mass resignations.”
Medicom: Pride in Protection
In conclusion, the ongoing pandemic has taught us that everyone benefits from choosing reliable protective equipment. Although we don’t know what the future holds, you can rest assured that the Medicom team will continue to produce medical masks, gloves, gowns and other infection control products that are among the most reliable in the industry.
To learn more about our complete portfolio of products, please visit Medicom.com