Avoid contaminating N95 respirator while in use

A clinical tip from the front lines

With federal officials requiring the use of N95 respirators for H1N1 pandemic influenza A patients, an emergency services nurse provides a clinical tip to properly use the masks without contaminating them.

Avoid repositioning or touching your N-95 respirator before completing tasks that require its use, says Helen Sandkuhl, RN, MSN, CEN, FAEN, director of nursing for emergency services at Saint Louis University Hospital.

"If repositioning of the respirator is unavoidable, this should be done in a way that avoids touching unprotected portions of the face or margins of the respirator," she says. "Gloves should be removed and hand hygiene should be performed before and after touching the respirator. If removal must be performed, the respirator should be considered to be contaminated."