Fit and Efficacy Deteriorates With Reuse of N95 Masks
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Nearly half of all the N95 masks worn by anesthesiologists during the COVID–19 pandemic fails fit tests after four days of its reuse, according to an analysis published by the British Journal of Anaesthesia .

The results, based on assessments performed on 74 anesthesia providers in April and May, suggests that many of the masks being worn by health care professionals during the height of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the United States did not provide an adequate “seal to the face" to ensure filtration of small aerosolised droplets.

Shortages of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) has forced many hospitals to encourage their staff members to reuse them — following protocols of cleaning and decontamination.

A repeat N95 fit testing on 74 anesthesia provider where female anesthesiologists were more likely to fail fit testing (63%) than their male colleagues (29%).Failure rates were 46% after four days of wear, 50% after 10 days, and 55% after 15 days. N95 respirators that failed fit testing were worn at a median of eight days and used a median of 18 times, the researchers reported.

Use of reusable elastomeric respirators can help to decrease the demand for disposable N95. Additionally, the universal masking of patients can also decrease the risk for virus transmission and thus N95 demand.

As testing becomes more accessible,single use with N95 masks in patients that are confirmed positive should be advocated especially for the anesthesiologists who are performing high-risk aerosolizing procedures such as intubations.

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