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To identify ways that the built environment may support or disrupt safe doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in biocontainment units (BCU).
We observed interactions between healthcare workers (HCWs) and the built environment during 41 simulated PPE donning and doffing exercises.
The BCUs of 4 Ebola treatment facilities and 1 high-fidelity BCU mockup.
A total of 64 HCWs (41 doffing HCWs and 15 trained observers) participated in this study.
In each facility, we observed how the physical environment influences risky behaviors by the HCW. The environmental design impeded communication between trained observers (TOs) and HCWs because of limited window size or visual obstructions with louvers, which allowed unobserved errors. The size and configuration of the doffing area impacted HCW adherence to protocol, and lack of clear demarcation of zones resulted in HCWs inadvertently leaving the doffing area and stepping back into the contaminated areas. Lack of standard location for items resulted in equipment and supplies frequently shifting positions. Finally, different solutions for maintaining balance while removing shoe covers (ie, chair, hand grips, and step stool) had variable success. We identified the 5 key requirements that doffing areas must achieve to support safe doffing of PPE, and we developed a matrix of proposed design strategies that can be implemented to meet those requirements.
Simple, low-cost environmental design interventions can provide structure to support and improve HCW safety in BCUs. These interventions should be implemented in both current and future BCUs.
To describe current Ebola treatment center (ETC) locations, their capacity to care for Ebola virus disease patients, and infection control infrastructure features.
A 19-question survey was distributed electronically in April 2015. Responses were collected via email by June 2015 and analyzed in an electronic spreadsheet.
The survey was sent to and completed by site representatives of each ETC.
The survey was sent to all 55 ETCs; 47 (85%) responded.
Of the 47 responding ETCs, there are 84 isolation beds available for adults and 91 for children; of these pediatric beds, 35 (38%) are in children’s hospitals. In total, the simultaneous capacity of the 47 reporting ETCs is 121 beds. On the basis of the current US census, there are 0.38 beds per million population. Most ETCs have negative pressure isolation rooms, anterooms, and a process for category A waste sterilization, although only 11 facilities (23%) have the capability to sterilize infectious waste on site.
Facilities developed ETCs on the basis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, but specific capabilities are not mandated at this present time. Owing to the complex and costly nature of Ebola virus disease treatment and variability in capabilities from facility to facility, in conjunction with the lack of regulations, nationwide capacity in specialized facilities is limited. Further assessments should determine whether ETCs can adapt to safely manage other highly infectious disease threats.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2016;37(3):313–318
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