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Preventing Donning & Doffing Self-Contamination


Properly donning and doffing PPE can help reduce risks of self-contamination and cross-contamination of viruses. To reduce the risks of contamination during donning and doffing PPE it is recommended to have a designated area for these procedures and clear rules for how to dispose of used PPE. Another recommendation and developing standard are to have assistance by another person during the doffing process.

The world has mourned the loss of 2.7 million people due to COVID-19. It was especially painful to see frontline medical workers without enough PPE while caring for infected patients. During the international shortage of PPE supplies in the early part of the pandemic, the lack of PPE increased the spread.

While we have recovered from the shortage, improperly donning and doffing continue to compromise the health of frontline medical workers.

How to Put On (Don) PPE Gear

1. Gather all of your PPE to prepare for donning.
2. Properly wash hands and apply sanitizer.
3. Put on the isolation gown and use assistance if necessary.
4. Place your facemask, shield, N95, respirator, or applicable face covering over your face. Be sure to cover your face and nose.
5. Put on your eye protection – goggles or face shield.
6. Put on gloves.

While doffing can be done properly in a variety of ways, a standard practice is the reverse removal of PPE. It is important to ensure that the used PPE does not touch your skin or clothes.

How to Take Off (Doff) PPE Gear

1. Remove your gloves without allowing the exposed side of the gloves to touch your skin or clothing.
2. Remove your gown. Untie or break the ties (or snap buttons) and pull the gown off in a direction away from your body. You can roll the gown down for proper disposal
3. Properly wash hands and apply sanitizer.
4. Take off your face shield or goggles. Be careful not to touch the exposed areas of the shield or goggles with your hands or clothing
5. Remove your respirator or facemask and dispose of it properly.
6. Finally, repeat your hand hygiene protocol of washing and sanitizing.

Your organization may have specific requirements and checklists for donning and doffing PPE. There are many versions and adaptations of how to properly don and doff PPE. As long as cross-contamination and self-contamination are avoided through a no-contact process, follow the guidelines required by your organization.

Level up safety procedures by reminding colleagues to use proper techniques, as well. You can download this pdf. guide from the CDC here.


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