The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167504   Message #4101855
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
11-Apr-21 - 10:12 AM
Thread Name: BS: New news on the pandemic COVID-19
Subject: RE: BS: New news on the pandemic COVID-19
It has been fourteen months now, but the FDA is finally recommending to health care providers that they can now cease reusing disposable respirators:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending health care personnel and facilities transition away from crisis capacity conservation strategies, such as decontaminating or bioburden reducing disposable respirators for reuse. Based on the increased domestic supply of new respirators approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) currently available to facilitate this transition, the FDA and CDC believe there is adequate supply of respirators to transition away from use of decontamination and bioburden reduction systems.

The FDA recommends that health care personnel and facilities:

Limit decontamination of disposable respirators. Decontaminated respirators and respirators that have undergone bioburden reduction should be used only when there are insufficient supplies of new FFRs or if you are unable to obtain any new respirators.
Transition away from a crisis capacity strategy for respirators, such as decontamination of N95 and other FFRs.
Increase inventory of available NIOSH-approved respirators—including N95s and other FFRs, elastomeric respirators, including new elastomeric respirators without an exhalation valve that can be used in the operating room, and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). Even if you are unable to obtain the respirator model that you would prefer, the FDA recommends that you obtain and use a new respirator before decontaminating or bioburden reducing a preferred disposable respirator.

This begs the question why were all of these devices disposed of after one use if they can be satisfactorily decontaminated? Think of the materials that go into these devices and the cost of purchasing new. If they made them a little more sturdily, could they routinely be decontaminated as a regular matter of practice? How does the cost new compare to the cost of decontamination protocols? It used to be that everything was cleaned and sterilized (in the 1970s I worked at Ellis Island, the old immigrant processing station. In the long-closed hospital there was an early 20th century room-sized autoclave with doors that sealed like the doors in a submarine).

Of course technology won't all return to that of 100 years ago, but aside from the bloated overhead of management staffing in health care institutions, the cost of equipment and materials is also inflated. It is what the market, up till now, would bear.

I suppose the answer comes down to human nature - will the humans given the job of decontamination be given the proper instructions and adequate pay incentive to do the job thoroughly and correctly 100% of the time? We'd waste a lot less material if this were the case.