AVMA issues guidance on PPE use during COVID-19 pandemic

March 25, 2020
dvm360 Staff

Veterinarians and medical professionals should conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) until supplies become more readily available.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has issued guidelines on when to use and how to conserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to address the wellbeing and safety of veterinary staff, patients and clients during the COVID-19 health crisis.

With some medical products in short supply requests have emerged that all medical professionals, including veterinarians, conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) until supplies become more readily available.

Postponing elective procedures that require the use of PPE is one way of conserving. Conservation strategies can also include safely extending the use of disposable PPE, re-using disposable PPE, or increased use of washable PPE.

Guidance has been developed to control personnel exposure to occupational hazards utilizing a hierarchy to achieve feasible and effective controls. Multiple control strategies may be implemented concurrently, sequentially, or both to minimize exposure.

Veterinarians should increase focus on engineering and administrative controls and consider how they can safely extend the life of disposable PPE during times of a national shortage.

The guidelines answer the many questions veterinary practices have been asking:

  • Can disposable, single-use PPE be re-used when supply levels are inadequate?
  • Do expired gowns and surgical masks offer sufficient protection? Can we use them?
  • Can surgical masks and gowns be worn for more than one procedure?
  • Can reusable cloth gowns be used?
  • How can the need to reuse N95 respirators be eliminated?
  • How may I reuse N95 respirators?
  • What is the protocol if N95 respirators are not available?

Click here to view the complete guidelines.