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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 57-58

Is reuse of surgical and N95 masks dangerous? An opinion

Department of Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission04-Oct-2022
Date of Acceptance19-Oct-2022
Date of Web Publication01-Mar-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Nikunja Kumar Das
Department of Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpsic.jpsic_34_22

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How to cite this article:
Mukhida S, Palal D, Vyawahare C, Mali V, Das NK. Is reuse of surgical and N95 masks dangerous? An opinion. J Patient Saf Infect Control 2022;10:57-8

How to cite this URL:
Mukhida S, Palal D, Vyawahare C, Mali V, Das NK. Is reuse of surgical and N95 masks dangerous? An opinion. J Patient Saf Infect Control [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 30];10:57-8. Available from: https://www.jpsiconline.com/text.asp?2022/10/2/57/370887


In one of the research studies, we have gone through a recently published study 'Knowledge and practices of health-care workers regarding face masks in hospital' where the authors evaluated knowledge and practice of facemasks in health-care workers (HCWs). They studied this topic in view of protecting the HCWs and patients. We also want to give our input in this era.[1]

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a very useful barrier or shield for HCWs in view of their own self-protection from contamination and infection.[2] This definitely helps to prevent the transmission or spreading of infection from one patient to another or HCWs (vice versa). The use of PPE concepts was already established in the past but during the COVID-19 pandemic, each and every part of their use was precisely described for each component of the PPE. Various guidelines were issued and updated from time to time as per the research results which are scientifically proven.

During COVID-19, surgical masks and N95 masks were used for self and others' safety. In Maradia et al.'s study, 88% of HCWs reuse surgical masks which is not an ideal practice.[1] Surgical mask is disposable mask and they should be properly disposed after their completion of use or once it removed from the face. Even this practice needs to follow for N95 masks also. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, one more strategy was followed by hospitals for N95 respirators. During that period, a shortage of PPE production and availability was there.[3] Many hospitals issued one single N95 respirator to HCWs for work in COVID-19 wards/ICUs which they have to use for 5–7 days.[4] Newer respirators were given to them after 1 week.[5] We also have to say that face shield cannot be the option of face mask in view of COVID-19, H1N1 and other droplet and airborne transmission infectious diseases.

In some places, the same PPE kit reused by the same HCW or other HCWs was practiced. This practice was very hazardous and dangerous for HCWs as well as patients. HCWs and hospitals have to keep in their mind about contamination and infection-spreading concepts during following this practice.[6]

We conclude that, as the authors suggest, we have to discourage the reuse of disposable surgical mask practices by HCWs. Also need to educate the HCWs about the ideal practice of use and disposal process of surgical masks and other PPE materials.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Maradia M, Patil R, Gajjar S. Knowledge and practices of health-care workers regarding face mask in hospital. J Patient Saf Infect Control 2021;9:91-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Verbeek JH, Rajamaki B, Ijaz S, Sauni R, Toomey E, Blackwood B, et al. Personal protective equipment for preventing highly infectious diseases due to exposure to contaminated body fluids in healthcare staff. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2020;4:CD011621.  Back to cited text no. 2
Burki T. Global shortage of personal protective equipment. Lancet Infect Dis 2020;20:785-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Rivard L, Pester J, McMahon K, Check R, Kelly B, Balakrishnan V, et al. The efficacy of continuous use disposable N95 masks in clinical practice in the emergency department. Am J Emerg Med 2021;44:124-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Suen LK, Guo YP, Tong DW, Leung PH, Lung D, Ng MS, et al. Self-contamination during doffing of personal protective equipment by healthcare workers to prevent Ebola transmission. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 2018;7:157.  Back to cited text no. 5
At Height of Pandemic Healthcare Workers Reused PPEs in Kalyana Karnataka by Gururaja BR, DHNS, Kalaburagi Updated on 23 December, 2021 on Deccan Herald. Available from: www.deccanherald.com/state/kranataka-districts/at-height-of-pandemic-healthcare-workers-reused-ppes-in-kalyana-karnataka-1064084.html. [Last accessed on 2022 Oct 03].  Back to cited text no. 6


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