Misinformed protocols for eyewear impact healthcare workers’ safety


Misinformed protocols and choices in personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically in eyewear, can directly affect healthcare worker health safety and well-being.

This is according to Victor Lange, director of infection prevention and control and quality and risk management at Promise Hospital of San Diego.

He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) in Indianapolis, Indiana this week as part of a series of presentations presented by TIDI Products, a manufacturer of clinically differentiated, single-use, infection-prevention products.

Lange’s findings are based on a study and a process improvement program he implemented. His research revealed that reusable eyewear—meant to protect healthcare workers—actually can increase cross-contamination and infection risk.

Lange found that harmful pathogens remained on 74.4 percent of reusable eyewear—following disinfection—making reusable eyewear an ongoing source of infection risk. Reusable eyewear, or eyewear with reusable components, may pose a risk of carrying ongoing bioburden, due to an inability to effectively disinfect all surface details, and thereby may increase risk to healthcare workers and patients, determined Lange.

Eye-related infection transmission is proven and contamination risk can be present without a known event. Infectious agents can be introduced to the eye via an imperceptible splash or spray, or by touching the eye with contaminated fingers or objects, such as reused eyewear. Most in-place protocols suggest eyewear be used based on anticipated exposure, and then be discarded, or decontaminated, promptly.

However, risk is not always evident, disinfection can be unreliable, and environments and materials, including all types of PPE, can be unknowingly contaminated in the course of care.

Lange suggests appropriate, single-use, disposable eyewear be used whenever body fluids are present and whenever masks or gloves are worn. When Lange implemented a multi-departmental program enabling as much, over a 90-day monitoring period, exposure incidents were cut by 100 percent and 15 splashes and sprays were prevented.

“TIDI Products is dedicated to reducing healthcare worker infection risk and to increasing staff compliance through product innovation and clinical education. Easily accessible, effective disposable eyewear especially is vital in supporting nursing staff occupational health and safety,” said TIDI Products chief commercial officer Mark Beran.

Victor Lange, Promise Hospital of San Diego, TIDI Products, Mark Beran, US