Lost in the rush to get everyone masked up during the pandemic, was the importance of having a mask that fits properly! Any old mask can be more or less effective at blocking sneezes and large water droplets on your breath, but ineffective and improperly sized masks (including N95 masks) allow quite a bit of air flow around the edges of the mask.
It goes without saying that even the best masks can only filter air that passes through the filter medium and fail to provide any protection from air that enters through gaps between your face and the mask.
Some medical facilities, labs or manufacturing operations may use a testing system to test the fit of users' masks, but that's pretty impractical for most of us.
Do you know your mask size? It's determined by measuring the distance between the cheekbones and the distance from the bridge of your nose to the tip of your chin. Here's a handy guide you might find helpful:
One of the most significant developments in the medical industry in 2023 is the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is used to diagnose and treat diseases and predict potential health problems before they happen. AI can also identify patterns in patient data, which can help tailor treatments to the individual. AI also enables medical professionals to identify potential therapies quickly and to provide more accurate diagnoses and treatments.
Another significant advancement in 2023 is 3D printing for medical purposes. 3D printing can be used to create custom prosthetics and implants and to create living tissue for organ transplants. This technology has enabled doctors to create highly customized medical treatments tailored to the individual patient.
Robotics is also used extensively in the medical industry to automate mundane tasks and reduce human error. Robotic surgeries are becoming increasingly common, and they can perform complex procedures with greater accuracy and less risk of complications than a human doctor could. Medical laboratories also use robots to identify and analyze samples quickly and accurately.
Finally, virtual reality (VR) is increasingly used in medicine. VR can be used to provide immersive training and education for medical professionals, as well as to aid in diagnosing and treating patients. VR can also offer a more immersive experience for patients undergoing procedures, helping reduce the stress and anxiety they may be feeling.
In addition to these cutting-edge technologies, medical professionals in 2023 heavily rely on big data. Big data is used to analyze patient data to identify trends and patterns in their health. This data can then be used to create personalized treatments for individual patients and better understand how different medicines may affect others. Big data is also used to identify potential risk factors for certain diseases and determine the best ways to prevent them.
Gene editing is another significant development in the medical industry in 2023. Gene editing is being used to treat and even cure certain genetic disorders and to change the genetic makeup of cells to make them more resistant to disease. This technology can potentially revolutionize the medical industry as it can treat a wide range of conditions with greater accuracy and success.
Finally, telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular in the medical industry in 2023. Telemedicine is a technology that enables doctors to provide medical advice and treatment remotely via video calls or other digital platforms. This technology benefits patients in remote locations, allowing them to access medical care without traveling. Telemedicine has also enabled medical professionals to provide more efficient and cost-effective care.
The use of nanotechnology is also becoming increasingly common in the medical industry. Nanotechnology enables doctors to deliver drugs and treatments directly to the affected area, resulting in more effective treatments with fewer side effects. This technology can also be used to create nanorobots that can be used to detect and treat diseases at a cellular level.
Medical professionals are also innovating with the use of wearables. Wearables are becoming increasingly popular among patients, enabling them to track their health data more efficiently. Wearables can be used to keep track of heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs and to report this data to medical professionals in real time. This data can then be used to tailor treatments to the individual and detect potential health problems before they arise.
Overall, the medical industry in 2023 is drastically different from earlier years. With the implementation of cutting-edge technologies such as AI, 3D printing, robotics, VR, big data, imaging, gene editing, and telemedicine, medical professionals can provide better and more personalized care to their patients. In addition, the use of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and wearables is helping to revolutionize the medical industry, resulting in more efficient and cost-effective treatments.
The Need for PPE Is Expected to Grow
The market for personal protective equipment (PPE) was already expected to grow strongly by 2027 even before coronavirus hit, thanks to demand from emerging market healthcare systems. But because of COVID-19, the peak has come much earlier than predicted.
Data from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan shows that demand for practically all forms of PPE is increasing rapidly. Purchasing of face masks is up 65 percent, disposable gloves are up 50 percent, clothing is up 100 percent, and goggles are up 150 percent. And next year, the growth is set to continue.
What is PPE?
PPE - or personal protective equipment - is apparel designed to prevent the spread of infection between people. Before the coronavirus, the term was not a part of everyday language. But thanks to the current pandemic, it has entered the lexicon and become a regular part of speech.
PPE is vital in situations where no drugs or vaccinations exist to control the spread of infection. It is the best way to prevent pathogens from hopping from one person to another, hence why it is in such high demand today.
PPE is two-way: it should protect you from patients with the disease and vice versa. You can think of it as an extreme form of social distancing for situations where staying two meters apart is impossible. Often medical staff needs to be in close contact with patients for prolonged periods to administer treatment. Effective PPE creates a barrier between the two, protecting both parties.
How to Use PPE Properly
PPE is only effective if you use it properly. That means putting it on and taking it off according to accepted protocols.
Certain activities require a higher degree of PPE than others. For instance, medical professionals inserting tubes into coronavirus patients’ airways (intubation) often require a greater degree of protection than members of the public passing each other in the street. The number of virus particles traveling through the air is much higher in the former situation than the latter. Anyone entering a room treating active COVID-19 patients need considerable protection because of the higher density of virus particles.
Here is the process you should follow to use PPE correctly, according to CDC guidelines:
- Identify the correct PPE for your situation: Usually, you’ll require a specific type of disposable gown or coverall, depending on your training.
- Wash your hands: Always wash your hands before touching any PPE equipment to prevent the spread of infection.
- Put on an N95 NIOSH-approved respirator: N95 respirators are different from regular face masks because they usually come with a separate nose piece. They do not require bending or tenting. Ensure that the respirator fully covers both the nose and the chin, entirely protecting the airways. If you're using a respirator, be sure to place the top straps around the crown of the head and the bottom strap around the base of the neck. For facemasks, the procedure is the same, unless the mask uses ear hooks.
- Put on face goggles: Once your N95 respirator or mask is secure, put on your face shield or goggles. Double-check that your eye protection does not interfere with the placement of your facemask. Whether you use a facemask or shield is often a matter of policy or personal preference. Face shields are less prone to fogging.
- Don your gloves: If you wear gloves, ensure that they cover the cuff of your gown.
There is also a set order in which you should remove PPE equipment. Below is the sequence you should follow in the medical setting:
- Remove your gloves: Remove your gloves in such a way that avoids your hand coming into contact with the outer surface, which could potentially be contaminated.
- Remove your gown:
- If you are in a medical setting, remove your gown.
- Untie all ties gently, avoiding any jerking movements that could throw viral particles into the air.
- Start at the top of the body and roll the gown downwards, away from the face. When removed, place in a designated receptacle for safe disposal.
- Wash your hands: Leave the high-risk space and wash your hands to destroy any lingering viral particles.
- Discard your respirator: Do not touch the front of it, as this can harbor viral particles.
- Wash your hands again: Wash your hands for a second time to eliminate any stray viruses that may have transferred to your skin during the doffing process.
Types Of Personal Protective Equipment
Here, we briefly discuss some of the types of personal protective equipment that medical practitioners, clinicians, and members of the general public might use.
Disposal caps are pieces of headwear that prevent pathogenic particles from passing from the hair to the patient, and vice versa. Traditionally, surgeons used them to stop shedding hairs from transmitting infection, but they are useful today for COVID-19 control.
N95 masks and respirators are face wear items that fulfill the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) N95 criteria. Masks in this category must be able to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles. KN95 masks provide essentially the same protection as the N95 masks, but differ in some features.
Disposable gowns are personal protective equipment that healthcare professionals wear during surgery or when the risk of infectious disease transmission is high. It protects the patient and healthcare professional from the exchange of particulate matter and bodily fluids,
Disposable coveralls are items of PPE that cover the entire body instead of just small sections of it. In many situations, they are more convenient than donning separate items of PPE.
Disposable gloves provide additional protection to the hands. Usually, they are made of a flexible nitrile material that is impervious to viral particles. Nitrile gloves are popular because they are both sturdy and comfortable, and won't provoke and allergic reaction as latex does in some glove wearers.
Knee-High Boot and Shoe Covers
Knee-high boot and shoe converse are light and dust-proof covers that protect the body's lower extremities against contamination.
Even after nearly two years of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us are still confused about face masks, when to wear them? what kind of mask? etc, etc. Using information from the most recent CDC update, we'll attempt to answer some of your most urgent face mask questions.
Q. Do I need to wear a mask outdoors?
A. "In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings...In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated."
Q. Do I need to wear a mask indoors?
A. "Everyone 2 years or older who is not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places...If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection and prevent possibly spreading COVID-19 to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission...People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider."
Q. Do I still need to wear a mask while taking public transportation (planes, buses, trains, etc)?
A. "Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and train stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus)."
Q. How do I wear a mask with my beard?
A. "Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. Masks that fit well protect you better. To have a better fit, people with beards can shave their beards or trim their beards close to the face...For people with beards that are not trimmed close to the face, masks may fit loosely around the beard. However, people with beards should still wear a mask. Masks designed for people with beards are being evaluated, and information will be provided when it becomes available."
Other ways to improve fit:
- Use a mask fitter or brace.
- Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against the face and beard.
Q. Do small children need to wear masks?
A. "Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old."
For other children:
"Find a mask that is made for children to help ensure proper fit...Check to be sure the mask fits snugly over the nose and mouth and under the chin and that there are no gaps around the sides."
Q. Will wearing a mask cause me to breathe in too much carbon dioxide (CO2)?
A. "Wearing a mask does not raise the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in the air you breathe. Cloth masks and surgical masks do not provide an airtight fit across the face. The CO2 escapes into the air through the mask when you breathe out or talk. CO2 molecules are small enough to easily pass through mask material. In contrast, the respiratory droplets that carry the virus that causes COVID-19 are much larger than CO2, so they cannot pass as easily through a properly designed and properly worn mask."
For more information on these and many other questions, including questions about people with disabilities and masks, what kind of mask to wear, washing and caring or masks, and more, please visit the CDC website and read "Your Guide to Masks."
Primis Medical carries a large selection of disposable masks including KN95 and N95 face masks. We recommend these masks because they offer a much higher level of filtration than typical cloth masks, form a tight seal to the face and provide superior protection from viruses and airborne particles.
Everyone knows the current pandemic has impacted supply chains worldwide. While a shortage of phones and gadgets is an annoyance, shortages of medical supplies is very concerning.
According to the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA), as many as 12,000 containers of critical medical supplies are currently delayed by an average of 37 days! Much of that time is spent languishing in US ports. HIDA is recommending a "fast pass" system to prioritize critical medical supplies.
Meanwhile, Primis Medical has a large stock of N95 surgical masks, high quality nitrile disposable exam gloves and sterile surgical gloves. We also carry level 3 and level 4 sterile surgical gowns as well as level 2 isolation gowns. Please give one of our sales staff a call, and they'll be happy to help you source any other critical supplies you need.
As the pandemic individuals and organizations are exploring various different types of mask alternatives to remain protected. However, research has shown that the N95 respirator masks are the most effective at preventing contraction and the spread of the disease.
What Is The Difference Between Medical N95 And Regular N95?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the body that rates and regulates the standard N95 respirator masks. They are designed to provide up to 95% filtration efficiency. Those who work in the healthcare industry will usually use a different set of N95 masks which are the surgical N95 respirator masks. The FDA has approved the surgical subset of this mask as a surgical mask which provides fluid resistance. The fluid resistance is potentially the biggest difference between surgical and regular N95.
The regular N95 masks often have an exhalation valve embedded in the mask to make it more comfortable to wear when necessary. It’s for this reason that medical professionals cannot use these regular N95’s when they are working around source control or in a sterile environment. The unfiltered breath can contaminate the patients, which is why the surgical N95’s are used instead.
How Do I Know If I Have An N95 Mask?
If you are eager to purchase and utilize an N95 face mask, then there are numerous details that you should consider. First, it is important to note that the CDC has released a warning regarding counterfeit N95 masks being sold on the market, both in-stores directly as well as online. N95 respirator masks have soared in demand as of late due to fears surrounding the coronavirus. They are essential PPE for use in schools as well as hospitals so it is vital that you can recognize authentic products.
Fake N95 masks are being created with the seal “NIOSH” on the mask or the packaging. As such, this label will not guarantee that you have purchased an N95 mask.
N95 face masks should have markings on the filtering facepiece respirator as well as a TC number on the facepiece respirator or headband. They should have clear NIOSH markings with NIOSH spelt the correct way. There should be no decorative addons to these masks and an authentic mask will have a headband rather than an ear loop. An approved respirator will also have a label on the package as well as an approval number.
N95 Mask Care And Maintenance
It’s essential that every person who uses an N95 face mask is doing their best to allow for extended use. One of the main considerations here is that the respirator in the mask must keep its fit and function. If the respirator becomes contaminated at any time, the mask must be thrown away and a different one should take its place. Research has suggested that the maximum length of continued use in a non-dusty environment is around seven or eight hours, however, this will be different depending on the environment you are in.
It is highly recommended that you use a cleanable face shield as well as the mask to protect it from getting contaminated. If the respirator comes into contact with blood, nasal secretions or any bodily fluids then it needs to be discarded immediately.
It’s not possible to know how many times you will safely be able to reuse the N95 face mask, but you should still do your best to maintain them at all times. This will include cleaning your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before you touch or adjust the mask in any way. You should also avoid touching the inside of the mask at all costs.
When you are finished using the product for the day, it’s recommended that you hang them in a designated storage area to keep them clean. Ensure that there is a paper bag or breathable container between all masks to minimize potential cross-contamination. Do not allow your face mask to touch anyone else’s or it will need to be discarded immediately. When you take your face mask out to reuse it, make sure that the storage container is cleaned thoroughly, or throw it away and get a new one for next time.
Finally, to keep things as safe as possible, you should always use a pair of clean gloves when you are putting on the N95. Get rid of these gloves as soon as you have conducted the user seal check and your mask is sitting comfortably on your face. If you need to touch the mask for any reason throughout the day, do not do so with unclean hands.
Where To Buy Approved N95 Masks
There are various businesses that do sell N95 respirator face masks. While some companies sell the masks individuals, others supply the masks in bulk for use in hospitals, businesses and schools. You can find a full list of approved manufacturers of N95 masks online. However, it is important to be wary when buying from a supplier that you have not used before. Specifically, you need to examine the wording used to advertise the masks being sold. Some companies will advertise “N95 equivalent” masks. It is important to understand that these are not authentic N95 face masks. Instead, these are what the company deems to be masks that offer the same level of protection. However, without the full approval, there is no way to guarantee this.
The only way to ensure that you have found a seller that is selling authentic N95 masks will be to check the full product description. This should provide you with all the information you need and state clearly that the mask you are buying is medically approved.
Taking care of your N95 face mask is not optional and all of the precautions have been put in place with the safety of everyone in mind. Now more than ever, face masks are an essential part of everyday life.