Experiences of wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when examining patients

1. Background

The routine working life of a radiographer has changed dramatically in a few short weeks due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. One of the main aspects of this change is the mandatory requirement to wear various levels of PPE, in order to minimise the potential for transmission of the virus from a patient to staff; staff to patient and staff to staff etc, thereby facilitating the (uncontrolled) spread of disease.  The specific type of PPE donned by the radiographer is determined by the perceived level of risk, for example, maximum protection is provided for imaging examinations on Covid19 positive/suspected patients and a lesser degree of protection is provided for the imaging of all other patients on the assumption that they may be carrying the virus, even if they are completely asymptomatic. (Obviously the same applies to staff members too.)

Radiographers will need to don and doff PPE multiple times (in addition to adhering to the guidance on handwashing) during a shift because of the requirement to image multiple patients. If done properly these activities prove time consuming and add to the overall time spent on each examination and this has to be factored in. Undoubtedly these processes will become quicker as staff get more familiar with the routine.  It does however mean that they are not necessarily wearing it constantly, therefore providing short, welcome breaks which many nurses wearing full PPE when caring 1:1 for patients will not get in a shift.