Premier survey shows isolation gowns replacing N95 masks as top shortage concern among hospitals

    Premier Inc. has released survey results finding that isolation gowns surpassed N95 masks as the top personal protective

equipment (PPE) shortage concern among healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.


    Up from 56 percent last month, 74 percent of survey respondents said securing a reliable supply of

disposable isolation gowns was their top worry.

In contrast, concern about N95 masks was cited by 67 percent of respondents, down from 73 percent last month.


    In the absence of a reliable supply of non woven

isolation gown
s, health systems have resorted to alternatives, including coveralls (used by 43 percent of respondents),

Tyvek suits (32 percent) and ponchos (14 percent). In addition, 22 percent are turning to alternative suppliers in adjacent

industries, striking innovative partnership deals such as LifeBridge Health’s agreement with Under Armour to produce

surgical gown alternatives.

    Since Premier data first documented N95 respirators as going into widespread shortage, the government has granted a

series of waivers or emergency use authorizations allowing providers to reuse and reprocess N95s, access alternative KN95

masks and use non woven face masks beyond their recommended

date, as temporary measures to address shortages during the COVID-19 crisis. These government-approved conservation measures

are now being followed by a majority of survey respondents.

    Survey findings show 79 percent of respondents caring for COVID-19 patients are extending the wear of N95 respirators, up

from the 60 percent reported just last month. In addition, 70 percent of providers are reusing N95s (up from 40 percent last

month); 59 percent are using N95s beyond their recommended date (up from 29 percent); 67 percent are using industrial

versions (up from 31 percent); and another 47 percent are using KN95 products, a measure that was approved at the beginning

of April by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow providers to use masks produced and approved by Asian

regulators. 

    In addition to conservation measures, manufacturing capabilities increased globally over the last month to meet the

demand for face masks and respirators. While this was universally lauded, it

did produce an unintended consequence for isolation gown supply, as N95s

and many isolation gowns are made using the same spunbond and meltblown textile processing capabilities (also known as SMS

textiles). As manufacturers prioritized capacity to produce

disposable face mask
s and respirators, the supply for isolation gowns was compressed. 


    Reduced concern over face shields and hand sanitizer is likely due to the fact that many health systems have found

alternative suppliers to produce these products for them. For instance, 43 percent of respondents are working with

alternative suppliers to produce face shields, including  3D printers, and 33 percent are working with alternative suppliers

like local distilleries to make hand sanitizer.

    Arguably, there are advantages to hospital gowns. They are functional, allow doctors to gain easy access to the patient

to conduct a physical examination. They are also cheap and easy to clean. But researchers in Finland have argued that wearing

a patient gown is often unnecessary and can even be traumatic for some

patients. A recent study found that patients are often asked to wear hospital gowns even when there is no medical reason for

them to do so.

    With the rapid growth of the global economy and the continuous improvement of people's living standards, medical and

health services are also advancing at a high speed. There are continuous medical operations every day. The demand for

surgical drapes, mattresses and other medical surgical drapes is even more

immeasurable.


    Medical disposable surgical drapes are made of hydrophilic non-woven fabrics and ordinary non-woven fabrics, with rapid

water-absorbing materials in the middle, and then cut and sewn into various specifications. It has excellent air

permeability, high resistance to hydrostatic pressure and bacterial barrier, and has the characteristics of anti-alcohol and

anti-blood isolation and absorption.


   



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