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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 80

Letter to the Editor: Communicating while wearing personal protective equipment: A challenge during the COVID-19 era


1 Departments of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, AIIMS Mangalagiri, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS Mangalagiri, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Submission20-Jan-2022
Date of Acceptance10-Feb-2022
Date of Web Publication2-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Satvinder Singh Bakshi
Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, AIIMS Mangalagiri, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/sjhs.sjhs_12_22

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How to cite this article:
Bakshi SS, Kalidoss VK. Letter to the Editor: Communicating while wearing personal protective equipment: A challenge during the COVID-19 era. Saudi J Health Sci 2022;11:80

How to cite this URL:
Bakshi SS, Kalidoss VK. Letter to the Editor: Communicating while wearing personal protective equipment: A challenge during the COVID-19 era. Saudi J Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 28];11:80. Available from: https://www.saudijhealthsci.org/text.asp?2022/11/1/80/344480



Dear Editor,

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has become an integral part of our health-care delivery system during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They have saved millions of health-care workers from contracting the virus and their importance cannot be overstated. However, one major issue while wearing PPE is that of communication. In our own personal experience and that of other health care workers,[1] communication becomes hampered while wearing PPE and this effect becomes more exacerbated in noisy environments such as the intensive care unit and operation theatre.

The problem can also worsen in critical situations where the health-care workers may already be fatigued and stressed due to sick patients and they have to keep shouting for communication. A possible danger may be the temporary removal of a part of the PPE, which can increase the risk of getting infected. Miscommunication in the operation theater can result in medication errors and procedural errors and can seriously compromise the safety of the patients.

To overcome some of the following solutions can be tried.[2] (a) The health-care worker wearing the PPE can have his role and name written on the PPE itself, so it is easy to identify them; (b) the health-care workers before wearing the PPE can have a small briefing where the treatment plan, potential risks and complications, and monitoring of patients can be discussed; (c) although not very common, certain PPE have a microphone with amplifiers for better communication; this can be used in critical areas and places with increased background noise; (d) frequent reminders to operating surgeons and assistants to “speak up” so as to increase the comprehension; (e) use of flashcards for communicating common instructions with each other and with patients; (f) innovative hand signals for communication in the operation theater.[3]

Although these solutions may help mitigate the problem of miscommunication to some extent, a lot is desired for us to effectively communicate while wearing PPE. Further research in this direction is warranted.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Radonovich LJ Jr., Yanke R, Cheng J, Bender B. Diminished speech intelligibility associated with certain types of respirators worn by healthcare workers. J Occup Environ Hyg 2010;7:63-70.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Hampton T, Crunkhorn R, Lowe N, Bhat J, Hogg E, Afifi W, et al. The negative impact of wearing personal protective equipment on communication during coronavirus disease 2019. J Laryngol Otol 2020;134:577-81.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Ellis R, Hay-David AG, Brennan PA. Operating during the COVID-19 pandemic: How to reduce medical error. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2020;58:577-80.  Back to cited text no. 3
    




 

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