Observer: Introduction

This training module discusses the roles and responsibilities of Trained Donning and Doffing Observers (called Trained Observers or TO).

A Trained Observer is a clinician – most likely an infection prevention professional, nurse, or physician – whose sole responsibility is to guide health care providers as they don (put on) and doff (take off) personal protective equipment, or PPE. When acting as a Trained Observer you will not be delivering care directly to patients. Instead you will focus on ensuring the safety of health care providers and in some circumstances their doffing assistants.

You may directly assist your care delivery colleagues as they don their PPE. You will need to walk through the care processes and equipment usage policies of your institution to understand if and when a doffing assistant is required. If your institution determines that there are circumstances where you, as the observer, will also offer doffing assistance, you should keep any and all direct physical contact to a bare minimum.

When you work with a health care provider and doffing assistant you will not physically assist at all. You are there to monitor, protect, and guide health care providers through the protocols of donning and doffing PPE. Remember, an effective Trained Observer:

  • is vigilant in spotting defects in equipment;
  • is proactive in identifying upcoming risks;
  • follows the provided checklist, but focuses on the big picture;
  • is informative, supportive and well-paced in issuing instructions or advice;
  • always practices hand hygiene immediately after providing assistance.