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Correlation Between N95 Extended Use and Reuse and Fit Failure in an Emergency Department

Frontline health care workers are at high risk of contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1Personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 respirators (N95s), is essential for prevention of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers dispose of N95s after a single patient encounter. However, it recommends N95 extended use (wearing the same N95 for multiple patient encounters) and limited reuse (storing an N95 between encounters for use over multiple encounters) during critical PPE shortages.2,3There are limited data regarding N95 reuse and extended use. Existing studies were conducted in laboratories, not clinical environments.4,5Inadequate supplies of N95s have forced many emergency departments to implement various N95 reuse and extended use policies but without empirical evidence of their effectiveness. We examined the prevalence of N95 fit test failure while reusing 2 common types of N95 masks.

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