The International Society for Respiratory Protection

pdf Vol. 35. No. 1. 2018 pp. 26 - 34 Wizner (open access)

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Feasibility Assessment of a New Surveillance Tool for Respiratory Protective Devices Used in U.S. Healthcare

Kerri Wizner, Lewis Radonovich, Allie Bell, Charles Oke, Mary Yarbrough

Background: Respiratory protective devices (RPDs) are used for infection prevention in healthcare settings during routine patient care and public health emergencies. In recent years, healthcare systems have experienced shortages of RPDs during outbreaks of infectious diseases, in part due to a lack of information about their availability. New tools to track RPD inventories may improve accessibility during an emergency. Investigators at Vanderbilt University have identified four major themes that influence RPD use for infection prevention: hospital preparedness, responsiveness to airborne pathogens, potential exposure outcomes, and infection control practices related to respirator effectiveness. Based on these findings, an RPD surveillance tool (RST) was developed to collect and share near real-time data about RPD supplies in healthcare facilities. The objective of this study was to conduct a feasibility assessment of this RST.

Methods: The new online surveillance tool was implemented at four large, urban, acute care U.S. hospitals in January 2014; data was collected about RPD inventory, tracking systems, hospital characteristics, and utility of gathered information.

Results: The RST was implemented successfully and without difficulty at hospitals that had 78 to 90 percent occupancy rates. Participating hospitals reported that the RST (1) provided value for benchmarking their RPD supply, (2) promoted understanding about RPD accessibility among hospital systems engaged in infection control, and (3) served as a means to assess RPD program quality.

Conclusion: Implementation of this newly developed RST is feasible and appears to have utility in U.S. hospitals for tracking and understanding RPD use for routine healthcare delivery and public health emergencies.

Keywords: Respirator use and supply; Respiratory protective devices (RPDs); Feasibility assessment; Hospital setting; PPE surveillance system; Respiratory protective device surveillance tool (RST)