Which Hospital Workers Face Least COVID Risk? Depends on Whom You Mask

September 15, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified September 16, 2020

According to this article by MedPage Today, British researchers found hospital clinicians taking care of the sickest COVID-19 patients were associated with the lowest risk of seropositivity versus those working in other areas of the hospital, and personal protective equipment (PPE) may have played a role. After adjustment, working in intensive care medicine was associated with a reduced risk of COVID-19 seropositivity reported Alex Richter, MD, of the University of Birmingham in England, and colleagues. However, those in general internal medicine, acute medicine, and housekeeping services had a higher risk of seropositivity.

They hypothesized varying levels of PPE played a role, as intensive care clinicians and those in designated “high risk areas” of the hospital had access to “enhanced PPE,” including “filtered face piece (class 3)” respirators. FFP3 respirators are said to filter out at least 99% of airborne particles. Surgical masks were recommended for staff in other clinical areas.

“We presumed that intensive care workers were going to have the highest risk,” Richter said in a podcast about the study. “Something like the PPE and the protective equipment the individuals were wearing may well play an important part in this finding.”

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