Medical Professionals Photo: ThriveGlobal

Certain procedures put healthcare providers at risk of COVID-19 ─Study

*Researchers say objective of study is to prioritise safety and protection for medical professionals, as they found that several medical procedures require more than the average amount of personal protective equipment

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Besides the use of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to protect themselves from the virus, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a new study explored how certain medical procedures also could put healthcare providers at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

ConsumerConnect learnt the findings revealed that any procedure that creates aerosols is a cause for concern because these small particles cling to the air and can carry infections across large, contained spaces.

The researchers explained that more extensive protective equipment is necessary to protect medical professionals from the virus.

Sebastian Straube, one of the researchers, said: “What we sought to do was to understand which procedures generate aerosols and therefore require a higher grade of personal protective equipment.

“Where there is 80 percent agreement from a number of different source documents, we are reasonably confident that, yes, the classification of these procedures as aerosol-generating is accurate.”

In terms of finding out the biggest risk, the researchers analysed nearly 130 medical journals and databases to understand how medical procedures are classified based on the levels of aerosols that they generate.

Though they did run into some issues because of how procedures are officially classified, they did learn that several medical procedures require more than the average amount of protective equipment.

The findings also showed that many procedures that involve breathing or resuscitation generate the most aerosols, and this was agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of the sources, according to the researchers.

This includes things such as intubation, tracheostomies, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), among several others.

Performing autopsies was also included in this category, says agency report.

However, not all of the sources categorised every procedure in the same way. In terms of generating aerosols, procedures such as dental work and endoscopies weren’t always considered to pose that great of a risk.

The researchers hope their work can help spur changes that will better protect health care workers.

Straube stated: “We are providing a summary of the evidence to inform policy-making decisions and guideline development.

“[Personal protective equipment] is typically displayed at the bottom rung of the hierarchy of hazard controls.

“Elimination of the hazard or substitution as well as engineering and administrative approaches to hazard control should also be considered.”

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