Summary Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE during Shortages

Summary Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE during Shortages
Updated July 16, 2020

This quick reference summarizes CDC’s strategies to optimize personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies in healthcare settings and provides links to CDC’s full guidance documents on optimizing supplies. These strategies offer a continuum of options using the framework of surge capacity when PPE supplies are stressed, running low, or absent. When using these strategies, healthcare facilities should:

  • Consider these options and implement them sequentially
  • Understand their current PPE inventory, supply chain, and utilization rate
  • Train healthcare personnel on PPE use and have them demonstrate competency with donning and doffing any PPE ensemble that is used to perform job responsibilities
  • As PPE availability returns to normal, promptly resume standard practices

Conventional Capacity strategies that should already be in place as part of general infection prevention and control plans in healthcare settings. Contingency Capacity strategies that can be used during periods of anticipated PPE shortages. Crisis Capacity* strategies that can be used when supplies cannot meet the facility’s current or anticipated PPE utilization rate. *Not commensurate with U.S. standards of care

PPE Type

Conventional

Contingency

Crisis

PPE Type

All PPE

N95 mask facemasks eye protection gowns gloves

Conventional

  • Use physical barriers and other engineering controls
  • Limit number of patients going to hospital or outpatient settings
  • Use telemedicine whenever possible
  • Exclude all HCP not directly involved in patient care
  • Limit face-to-face HCP encounters with patients
  • Exclude visitors to patients with known or suspected COVID-19
  • Cohort patients and/or HCP

Contingency

  • Selectively cancel elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments for which PPE is typically used by HCP
  • Decrease length of hospital stay for medically stable patients with COVID-19

Crisis

  • Cancel all elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments for which PPE is typically used by HCP

PPE Type

N95 Respirators

N95 mask

Conventional

Contingency

Crisis

PPE Type

Facemasks

facemasks

Conventional

  • Use facemasks according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements
  • Additional guidance

Contingency

  • Place facemasks in a secure and monitored site
  • Provide facemasks to symptomatic patients upon check-in at entry points
  • Implement extended use of facemasks
  • Restrict facemasks for use by HCP, rather than asymptomatic patients (who might use cloth face coverings) for source control
  • Additional guidance

Crisis

  • Use facemasks beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life during patient care activities
  • Implement limited re-use of facemasks
  • Prioritize facemasks for selected activities such as essential surgeries, activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated, prolonged face-to-face contact with an infectious patient, and aerosol-generating procedures

When no facemasks are available:

  • Use a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face with no facemask
  • Additional guidance

PPE Type

Gowns

gowns

Conventional

Contingency

Crisis

  • Extend the use of isolation gowns
  • Re-use cloth isolation gowns
  • Prioritize gowns for activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated and during high-contact patient care

When no gowns are available:

  • Consider using gown alternatives that have not been evaluated as effective
  • Additional guidance

PPE Type

Eye Protection

eye protection

Conventional

  • Use eye protection according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements
  • Additional guidance

Contingency

  • Shift eye protection supplies from disposable to re-usable devices
  • Extend the use of eye protection
  • Additional guidance

Crisis

  • Use eye protection devices beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life
  • Prioritize eye protection for activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated or prolonged face-to-face or close contact is unavoidable
  • Consider using safety glasses that cover the sides of eyes
  • Additional guidance

PPE Type

Gloves

gloves

Conventional

Contingency

  • Use gloves past their manufacturer-designated shelf life for training activities
  • Use gloves conforming to other U.S. and international standards
  • Additional guidance

Crisis

  • Use gloves past their manufacturer-designated shelf life for healthcare delivery
  • Prioritize the use of non-sterile disposable gloves
  • Consider non-healthcare glove alternatives
  • Extend the use of disposable medical gloves
  • Additional guidance