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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Every breath you take ... has been a struggle with many respirators but a new design is on the way

After years of development, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has created a respiratory protection device prototype that is expected to improve health care workers’ comfort and tolerance when wearing respirators to prevent airborne infections.

The VHA is starting a clinical study of the prototype this summer, with the investigation expected to be completed by June 2015. Project BREATHE (Better Respiratory Equipment using Advanced Technologies for Healthcare Employees) started six years ago.

BREATHE is an effort to bring a new respirator to the U.S. health care market, specifically for health care workers,” says Lewis Radonovich, MD, director of the national center for occupational health and infection control at the VHA in Washington, DC. “We have been bringing health care workers into the study so they could inform the future design.”

The VHA is working with NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh on the project, and they’ve engaged two private partners: 3M Corporation and Scott Safety. Investigators will measure how well the prototype is tolerated by health care workers in a simulated provider-patient situation

“Our hope is that there will be at least one prototype on the U.S. market in a couple of years -- devices that are more comfortable for employees,” Radonovich says.

--Melinda Young

For more on this story see the July 2014 issue of Hospital Employee Health