By GSN Staff

The FDA issued a letter for health care workers (HCWs) that discussed conservation strategies for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategies cover PPE, such as surgical masks, surgical and isolation gowns, and surgical suits, but not N95 respirators. 

For surgical masks and gowns, the FDA recommended that HCWs follow these strategies based on the supply needs of their health care organization. Gowns that have ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 1 and 2 barrier protection are considered nonsurgical isolation gowns. Gowns that have ANSI/AAMI PB70 Level 3 and 4 barrier protection and/or can be used for a sterile procedure are considered surgical gowns or surgical isolation gowns.

Conventional Capacity Strategies (supply levels are adequate to provide patient care without any change in routine practice)
Use FDA-cleared surgical masks and gowns according to labeling and local, state and federal requirements. Employ engineering and administrative controls following the CDC and its Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee guidelines to reduce the need for surgical masks while minimizing risks to HCWs and patients.

Specifically, for gowns, consider:

Contingency Capacity Strategies (limited supply levels may change patient care, but may not have a significant impact on patient care and health care provider safety)

Crisis or Alternate Strategies (may need to be considered if surgical mask or gown demand exceeds the supply)
If surgical masks and/or gowns are running low:

The FDA warned that counterfeit masks and gowns may be on the market, especially during this time of reduced supply.

PPE includes protective clothing, gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles, face masks and respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. 

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