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Personal Protective Equipment - Managing Critical Shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) During Declared Emergencies

What should an organization do if they are facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and are unable to obtain the PPE commercially?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only.

If organizations are facing critical shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and unable to obtain products commercially, there are several options available:
  • Some states may have an existing stockpile of PPE, additionally, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) supplements state and local inventories of medications and supplies during emergencies which exhaust local supplies.    Organizations may contact their local health authority for assistance with obtaining PPE from available state and local stockpiled supplies. 
  • CDC has published optimization strategies for PPE which offers a continuum of options for use when PPE supplies are stressed, running low, or absent. Contingency and then crisis capacity measures augment conventional capacity measures and are meant to be considered and implemented sequentially. As PPE availability returns to normal, healthcare facilities should promptly resume standard practices.
  • Use of cloth face coverings as a means of source control for visitors, patients, and personnel who are not performing duties that require PPE should be considered to preserve medical face masks for use by healthcare workers as personal protective equipment.  This can assist with implementation of the CDC's recommendation that all persons entering a healthcare facility wear a  face covering as a means of source control to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  CDC has provided resources to educate staff and the public about cloth face coverings and how to make sewn and non-sewn face coverings.  
The following websites (reviewed 06/25/20) may be helpful in the development of emergency plans, however, organizations should ensure they are accessing the most recent publication prior to implementing.
Manual: Critical Access Hospital
Chapter: Infection Prevention and Control IC
Last reviewed by Standards Interpretation: December 22, 2021 Represents the most recent date that the FAQ was reviewed (e.g. annual review).
First published date: July 02, 2020 This Standards FAQ was first published on this date.
This page was last updated on December 22, 2021 with update notes of: Review only, FAQ is current Types of changes and an explanation of change type: Editorial changes only: Format changes only. No changes to content. | Review only, FAQ is current: Periodic review completed, no changes to content. | Reflects new or updated requirements: Changes represent new or revised requirements.

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