Effective personal protective clothing for health care workers attending patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome

Thomas K. S. WONG, Wai Yee Joanne CHUNG, Y. LI, Wai F. CHAN, Patricia T. Y. CHING, Conita H. S. LAM, Chun B. CHOW, Wing H. SETO

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Background: Optimal usability is crucial in providing protection for health care workers who are exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome day and night while taking care of patients with the virus. No research study has yet tested the usability of personal protective clothing (PPC).

Method: The study was carried out in 3 stages. PPC available in Hong Kong were sorted by their physical properties in the first stage. The second stage was a single-blinded study examining the different usability aspects of the PPC. The third stage was a simulated viral load test.

Results: Four types were identified: good water repellency and water resistance, poor air permeability (Type A PPC); good water repellency and air permeability, poor water resistance (Type B PPC); poor water repellency, poor water resistance, and fair air permeability (Type C PPC); and good water repellency, poor air permeability, and fair water resistance (Type D PPC). Type D PPC had a significantly higher number of contamination sites on the subjects' dorsum and palm. Type C PPC had the highest contamination over the trunk. Findings in the viral load test showed that there was a significant difference in the contamination of the face (t = 4.69, df = 38, P<.00) between 1 and 2 strokes.

Conclusion: Type A PPC is effective in providing a desirable protective function against droplet splash, if a disposable PPC is required. Type C PPC, the surgical gown, is also appropriate, as the cost is low, air permeability is fair, and the level of possible hand contamination is lowest among the 4 groups in the current study. Copyright © 2004 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-96
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004



Wong, T. K. S., Chung, J. W. Y., Li, Y., Chan, W. F., Ching, P. T. Y., Lam, C. H. S., . . . Seto, W. H. (2004). Effective personal protective clothing for health care workers attending patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome. American Journal of Infection Control, 32(2), 90-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2003.08.004