Practical tips for safe use of masks


Thanks to Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Michael Garron Hospital, for sharing practical tips for the safe use of masks: 

·       Put your mask on when you arrive and don't take it off. Don't keep fiddling with your mask as every time you touch it you could contaminate yourself.

·       Staff that wear a hijab or headscarf should use a headband with buttons on it to put their ear-loop mask on or use a surgical mask with ties. Otherwise they may be more likely to self-contaminate as it is hard to put your ear-loop on with the hijab over your ears.

·       Do a Point-of-Care Risk Assessment to determine the need for N95 mask. These are only needed for Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures (AGMP) – see here.

·       Self-contamination is the biggest risk when using a mask. Focus on PERFECTION with respect to technique of doffing, vigilant hand hygiene and purposeful timed cleaning of your workspace. I would recommend doing this at the start and end of each shift.

·       Donning and doffing N95 respirator: I recommend using a Tupperware/plastic container, as I demonstrate in the video here. That way you can doff and re-use without touching it with your hands.

·       Use a face shield as this will make it less likely for you to touch your face. Face shields are superior to goggles, especially in units with COVID.

·       Be aware of fatigue and mindfulness. I've noticed this myself. When I get tired I get sloppy and have almost made a mistake when doffing. Take a moment to think about your technique before you do it. We take for granted the complexity of donning and doffing but now it is critical!!!