Reintroducing practical logic to PPE use: a video-based survey.

Dr Su-yin Hor1, Dr Mary Wyer1, Prof Lyn Gilbert2, Dr Rachel Urwin1, Dr Margo Turnbull2, Ms  Margaret Murphy3, Associate Prof Christine Jorm2

1Westmead Institute For Medical Research, Westmead, Australia,

2The University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia,

3Westmead Hospital, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, Australia


Emergency Department (ED) staff are at greater risk than other staff, of acquiring infectious diseases and inadvertently transmitting pathogens prior to diagnosis. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial in reducing these risks, but what PPE is both sufficiently protective and practicable for routine use is contested. This study explores clinicians’ opinions about what PPE is safe and feasible in different patient scenarios, using video clips of experienced clinicians donning and doffing PPE according to current national guidelines. The study aims to develop recommendations for minimum appropriate PPE adherence for frontline ED staff, when assessing newly admitted patients with unknown infectious risks.


The study consists of: (i) two focus groups, designed to explore current issues relating to PPE use in the ED, and to test and refine (ii) a national video-based online survey. Participants are infection prevention and control practitioners, emergency physicians and nurses, and infectious disease physicians.


This presentation will report our findings from the focus groups, and preliminary results of the online survey. These suggest that there is confusion about what current guidelines prescribe, and controversy over the logics of prescribed practices. Furthermore, there are ‘gaps’ between what some believe are essential elements of appropriate PPE practice, what is feasible routinely, and what can be communicated in a protocol.


This study adds to our understanding about what relevant clinicians think of PPE use, with implications for PPE policy and training, to improve PPE adherence and reduce the risk of pathogen transmissions in the ED.


Su-yin Hor is a post-doctoral research scientist at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR). She is a social scientist with a research background in psychology, education, and sociology, specialising in patient safety and collaborative learning in complex acute care settings. She has published on patient safety in relation to accountability, incident reporting, patient involvement, communication and space, infection prevention and control, and video-reflexive ethnography. Her current research uses participatory video-reflexive methods with healthcare staff and patients to improve infection prevention and control practices at the frontline of clinical care.

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