How to use N95 masks in surgery?

To get the maximum benefit and protection from the N95 masks, it is essential to use them as per the manufacturer’s instructions.


The fear of coronavirus doesn’t seem to cease with each passing day. The news of the increase in cases comes as a shock. It has further instilled fear in the people's minds for the cure is still to be discovered, and till then, nothing can be done to stay protected apart from using masks, sanitizers, or maintaining self-isolation. The masks are of different types, and each has a specific use for a specific group of people. The masks work efficiently and prove their worth if they are used as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Not only using the wearing, removing, and discarding of the mask should also be done as per the instructions from the manufacturer. 


Who should be using which mask?


FDA and CDC have made categories for the use of different masks. The masks are scarce, and it is our moral duty to reserve the surgical and N95 masks for the medical experts. The different masks are as follows:

  1.  Surgical masks are also known as the medical mask, is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact with the germs that may come from:
  • Droplets, 
  • Splashes, 
  • Sprays that may contain germs.  

A surgical mask filters out large particles in the air. Surgical masks also serve to protect others by reducing the exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer. The masks are a good option, but as per the US Food and Drug Administration, the surgical masks can be used. N95 masks are not available.

 

N95 Masks- N95 masks are a type of respirator that offers more protection than a surgical mask as it filters out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. The name N95 is designated as it blocks 95% of microscopic particles. The mask’s design is such that the edges form a seal around the nose and mouth. It is recommended that N95 masks are not shared. Importantly, if otherwise not specified, the masks are meant for single-time use.

 

Cloth masks- a cloth mask traps the released droplets when the wearer talks, sneezes, or coughs. If one and all wear the cloth mask spread of the virus by asymptomatic people can be prevented. In public settings, it is highly recommended to wear cloth masks for preventing the disease. In the countries where from the initial stages, face masks, testing, and isolation were made a norm, the spread of the disease has slowed down tremendously. Even if an asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly, wearing the mask can save the person from spreading the virus.


How to wear the N95 masks for surgery?


During surgery, the surgeon and the entire team are exposed to the virus from the cuts and wounds of the person under surgery. The life of the surgeon is at risk. Thus, they need to wear the N95 mask to keep themselves protected. Even there is a patient's risk as the doctors can pass on germs, bacteria, and viruses from their nose or mouth to the patient. Thus the use of N95 masks becomes mandatory for surgeons. N95 Respirators are trusted to defend against the spread of the virus as N95 pollution masks because the multiple layers of filters ensure that the air breather is inhaling and is 95% free from dust particles and pollutants. Also, breathing resistance in the N95 masks is comparatively lesser than most of the other types of masks; thus, the surgeons can wear them for long hours without getting suffocated. The brain's oxygen is not affected, so the surgeons can fully concentrate on their work and work with the required precision.

 

How to wear the mask?

The N95 mask will prove beneficial to the surgeons only if they wear it as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The wearer surgeons should have proper training and perfect fit of the mask to perform optimally. The mask needs to give a proper be fit to confirm a proper seal before using an N95 respirator for the surgery. The manufacturer has instructions on the package for putting the respirator and getting a tight seal. After the respirator is on and sits firmly on to your face, check the respirator's fit. Place both hands on the respirator. Exhale sharply and check the placement of the mask. If the air leaks, then re-adjust the respirator and exhale sharply again to check the mask's fit. Wearing the mask correctly ensures the safety of both the surgeon and patient.


Using or wearing the N95 mask for surgery has to be done with precision but even removing the mask has to be done cautiously. It is recommended not to touch eyes, mouth, or nose after or while removing the masks. Firstly, we need to sanitize the hands and then only touch them anywhere. After using the N95 masks disposing of the mask should be done as per the manufacturer’s instructions. It is proved that the infected masks have respiratory secretions, and they can be transmitted through the air. Thus removing the respirator from the mask and placing both the mask and respirator in a plastic bag before dumping it in the trash. It is highly recommended that after completing the process one should wash their hands from a disinfectant. If the surgeons intend to reuse the mask, they should first sanitize it thoroughly and then wear it again. Surgical and N95 masks went short in supply and were reserved for the surgeons and their teams.

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