Personal protective equipment (PPE) is special equipment you wear to create a barrier between you and germs. This barrier reduces the chance of touching, being exposed to, and spreading germs.
PPE helps prevent the spread of germs in the hospital. This can protect patients and health care workers from infections.
All hospital staff, patients, and visitors should use PPE when there will be contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
Wearing glovesprotects your hands from germs and helps reduce the spread of germs.
Masks cover your mouth and nose.
Eye protection includes face shields and goggles. These protect the mucous membranes in your eyes from blood and other bodily fluids. If these fluids make contact with the eyes, germs in the fluid can enter the body through the mucous membranes.
Clothing includes gowns, aprons, head covering, and shoe covers.
You may need special PPE when handling some cancer drugs. This equipment is called cytotoxic PPE.
You may need to use different PPE for different patients. Your workplace has written instructions about when to wear PPE and what type of PPE to use. You need PPE when you care for patients who are in isolation as well as other patients.
Ask your supervisor how you can learn more about protective equipment.
Remove and dispose of PPE safely to protect others from being exposed to germs. Before leaving your work area, remove all PPE and put it in the right place. This may include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Personal protective equipment. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ppe. Accessed February 20, 2014.
Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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