The B95: Is there a new respirator for the health care industry on the horizon?

N95Did you know that the respirators commonly used in healthcare were not originally developed with healthcare professionals in mind? They were borrowed from other industries such as manufacturing and construction.

Could this be a reason why, in spite of a number of policies and regulations requiring respiratory protection, that noncompliance is quote common?

In the December edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, an article points to some of the reasons for non-compliance in respiratory protection and suggestions for improving compliance including the development of a “Biological 95” or “B95” respirator.

Reasons for Non-Compliance included (how many of these sound familiar?): Lack of accountability for non-compliance,workload issues, time constraints, risk perception, effectiveness concerns, lack of  availability, comfort issues, interference with patient care, and an inability to communicate.

There were some suggestions as well to possibly improve compliance including improving the safety culture , offering better training strategies and interventions, developing and communicating clear policies and recommendations, studying modes of transmission, conducting effectiveness studies, implementing faster fit test methods, and offering better personal protection equipment

Many of these suggestions could be handled internally. The last, will need a little help.

Project BREATHE, a working group of a number of agencies including, but not limited to, OSHA, NASA,  and the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, has developed recommendations for the development of a B95. Since filtered particulates in healthcare settings are infectious biological aerosols, a mask designed for HCP should focus on reducing infection from exposures to biological hazards. However, such a mask does not yet exist.

So what do we do in the meantime? Knowing that the N95 masks you are using currently have to protect your employees, how do you know for sure that they are being used effectively and fit effectively?

The article sited is “B95: A new respirator for health car peronssel” by Megan E. Gosch MPH, Ronald E. Shaffer PhD, Aaron E. Eagan RN, BSN, Raymond J. Roberge MD, MPH, Victoria J. Davey PhD, MPH, RN, Lewis J. Radonvich Jr. MD, American Journal of Infection Control 41 (2013) 1224-30.

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