Nurses in the Sacramento area are challenging a new rule imposed by their hospitals to reuse respirator masks to treat multiple patients who have or are suspected to have been infected by the H1N1 virus. California hospitals are experiencing a shortage in respirators and officials are stating that the reuse of respirators after storing in a plastic bag between uses has been scientifically proven to be safe for nurses. Hospitals who are instructing the reuse of masks include Sutter and UC Davis. Mercy officials have recommended in an email that nurses be limited to one mask per shift.
“To put a mask in a plastic bag and then having to put it back on basically means that you have to give yourself whatever is stuck to that mask,” said Janet Braillard, an ICU nurse at Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.
The California Nurses Association has also expressed concern:
“Taking off a respirator affects the mask’s seal, and storing a respirator is worrisome,” said Bonnie Castillo, the CNA’s director of government relations. (Sac Bee)
Nurses feel that protesting the rule will help ensure worker and patient safety. Hospitals state that they are focused on the bigger picture.