Reprocessing of reusable face masks respirators during Covid 19
Reusable face masks respirators are generally used outside of a health care environment, however they may currently be used when clinicians cannot pass or complete a fit test with single use respirator face masks. Usage has increased significantly during the Covid 19 crisis.
The standards and instructions for reprocessing of these devices do not normally consider the implications of medical use. At the request of SMTL and PHW, Cedar, a healthcare technology research centre based at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) Cardiff, carried out a rapid evidence scan for published evidence, instructions for use (IFU), guidance/guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) relating to the reprocessing of reusable masks. SMTL and Infection Prevention and Control colleagues have summarised the findings of the evidence scan alongside results from limited testing of reusable mask reprocessing, and discuss the limitations of decontaminating these masks within the National Heath Service (NHS) setting.
In July 2020, the UK Decision Making Committee on PPE (DMC) asked some of its members to produce advice for NHS organisations to consider when purchasing and using reusable respirators in a healthcare context. The result was a paper "Reusable respirator half masks and Covid 19 – issues
for consideration and interim advice", which was approved by DMC in December 2020.
All papers can be found in the Resources section below.
DMC interim advice paper: Reusable respirator half masks and Covid 19 – issues for consideration and interim advice (January 2021)
CEDAR Rapid Evidence Scan: Reprocessing considerations for reusable full and half masks for COVID-19 - Rapid evidence scan (July 2020)
SMTL/IPC analyses: Summary of considerations for reusable full and half masks for the Welsh NHS during COVID-19 (July 2020)