NHS Trusts have been advised to revise procedures, purchasing processes, stock supply, checklists, and stock labelling around the use of valved FFP3 respirators and PAPRs after the issue of a National Patient Safety Alert on the infection risk when using these products during surgical and invasive procedures.
A wide range of FFP3 respirators have been used by staff across healthcare settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, including FFP3 respirators with and without exhalation valves.
Exhalation valves on these respirators do not filter exhaled breath, even when of a ‘shrouded’ type. Powered hoods (also known as powered air purifying respirators or PAPRs) have been provided as respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for staff unable to achieve a tight fit with an FFP3 respirator(s). The air exiting PAPR hoods is not filtered.
To minimise the risk of infection, this alert asks providers to ensure valved FFP3 respirators and PAPRs are not used during surgical and invasive procedures except in very specific circumstances set out in infection control guidance linked in the Alert.