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Surgical Masks / Surgical Caps / Disposable Shoe Covers - PPE Medical

The need for medical PPE, or personal protective equipment for hospitals, nursing, and other healthcare positions, is self-understood and includes important gear such as surgical masks, surgical caps, disposable shoe covers, medical goggles, and more. Read More...

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These apparel items, in addition to standard gloves and gowns, are an important measure of defense against the transmission of viruses, bacteria, and other contaminating fluids healthcare professionals are exposed to throughout the day.

Why do we use PPE in healthcare?

Personal protective equipment in healthcare is clothing or gear worn by healthcare providers to protect themselves and their patients from germs by creating a physical barrier between the person and any potential infections. Most medical and healthcare facilities, such as doctors’ and dentists’ offices, as well as hospitals and lab, utilize medical PPE for protection. While the primary function of PPE is to protect the professional, properly worn PPE can also help protect patients from healthcare-associated infection (HAI).

Guide to PPE in Healthcare

This category offers wearable products designed to protect professionals from infection, also known as PPE. Personal protective equipment affords medical professionals five main forms of protection, as shown in the chart below.

PPE Protection Area Appropriate Medical PPE Products


 Surgical masks, full face shields


 Surgical glasses, full face shields


 AAMI surgical gowns, disposable scrubs


 Medical gloves, sanitizing creams


 Disposable shoe covers, operating room shoes

In addition to the products mentioned above, another important element of PPE is keeping hair - and the multitude of bacteria in it - safely covered during medical procedures. For this purpose, many medical professionals use surgical caps to stay hygienic and safe.

Let's take a better look at each of these protective items to see how they keep people safe in hospitals and clinics the world over.


Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are generally worn by medical professionals working in the OR or ICU. Dentists, hygienists, and other healthcare practitioners often wear medical masks as well.

In general, surgical masks serve two purposes; they protect the professional as well as the patient from possible infection. When visiting a patient who is severely immunodeficient, family members sometimes wear hospital masks to minimize chances of transmitting airborne pathogens.

There are various styles of surgical face masks to suit every practitioner’s needs. Many masks are disposable, some are pleated, and the majority loop around the ears or can be tied on. One mask, the Fluidshield surgeon mask, comes along with a wraparound visor, which provides both increased convenience as well as optimal protection.

In the past, reusable medical masks were common, but with disposable masks being more affordable than ever, most professionals have moved over to exclusively using disposable masks, since they are the most effective at preventing contamination. When using disposable surgical masks, it is crucial to change them often, as the protection will break down after some use.

If you are a medical student who is required to start wearing an antiviral face mask, take heart; they’re not as annoying as they look! In fact, one medical professional told AvaCare Medical that she’s so used to wearing them, she has often unknowingly left her office still wearing one!

Another common form of facial protection is a full face shield. The medical face shield provides respiratory protection combined with optical protection, making it an ideal PPE item for certain medical professions.


Surgical Caps

Hair is almost always a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and many other germ species. Wearing a surgical bouffant cap prevents these germs from being transmitted to patients. Surgeon caps also keep hairs from falling onto a patient during surgery. For these reasons, wearing a bouffant cap when in the operating room or ICU is of paramount importance and a crucial part of PPE.

Quality surgical caps, such as those at AvaCare Medical, often have a lightweight, breathable design so that it’s barely felt by the wearer.


Disposable Shoe Covers

Disposable shoe covers are worn by medical professionals over their regular shoes during surgeries, in isolation rooms, and certain messy procedures. These medical shoe covers are designed to create a barrier between the person’s feet and the many germs floating around, and prevent the tracking of germs from one place to another. To increase safety and sterileness, these shoe covers are usually non-slip, and fluid-resistant. Disposable shoe covers, which are worn only once and then placed in the trash, are the most sanitarily effective shoe covers, since their usage period is so brief.

According to the FDA, disposable shoe covers should be worn regularly by professionals who work in the ICU or the operating room, since patients who are in those parts of the hospital are extremely susceptible to germs and the like, and the slightest exposure can lead to a severe case of HAI or worse.

If wearing disposable shoe covers is not practical or possible, operating room shoes - footwear that is specifically set aside to be worn during procedures - should be worn. However, shoe covers are always preferable to wearing personal shoes without covers, since surgical shoe covers are fluid repellant, and can be easily removed when leaving the ICU or tending to personal needs during shift. Also, as we mentioned previously, they are often disposable, helping to avoid build-up of germs over time and ensuring that you have to deal with less messes and washes after your shift is over.

AvaCare Medical provides healthcare practitioners with several quality options of disposable shoe covers from well known brands such as McKesson, Halyard, and other leading medical brands.


Surgical Glasses

Surgical glasses, goggles, or visors are a necessary protective measure when your eyes may be exposed to airborne germs and fluids. Medical safety glasses and other protective eyewear ensure that your health and vision are safe, while still offering a clear view so that you can perform procedures and tasks efficiently. Important features to look out for in protective medical eyewear includes styles that can be worn with eye glasses underneath, adjustable straps for a personalized fit, and scratch resistant material.


Surgical PPE Gowns

Medical gowns, like the aforementioned surgical gear, prevent the transmission of pathogens and contaminating fluids, and mitigate the risk of infection which is common among patients with weakened immune systems. They’re often generously sized for flexibility and the fullest possible coverage.

Different gowns offer different levels of AAMI protection. The levels range from one, which affords minimal protection from fluids, through four, which affords protection against bloodborne pathogens during complicated surgeries.

In addition to surgical gowns, there is also the option of using operating room scrubs, which are generally disposable for better hygiene and protection.


Disposable Gloves

Medical gloves are an important part of PPE, since most professionals use their hands practically nonstop when caring for patients. By wearing disposable, protective gloves, these professionals are helping to inhibit the spread of germs. This prevents the transmission of germs from patient to practitioner when the professional deals with the patient.