A large majority of healthcare facilities are reusing or extending the life of personal protective equipment typically meant for single use, according to a national survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Findings revealed 73% of the infection preventionists reported that their facilities have implemented crisis standards of care for respirators due to the ongoing public health crisis. Nearly 70% have implemented the crisis standards for masks, while 75.8% have done so for face shields or eye protection. 

Additionally, more than 73% of infection preventionists whose facilities are reusing both masks and respirators also reported that their facilities allow staff members to reuse the equipment either five times or as many times as possible before getting new materials. 

“It is disheartening to see our healthcare system strained and implementing PPE crisis standards of care more than eight months into the pandemic. “Many of us on the frontlines are waiting for the other shoe to drop,” APIC President Connie Steed said in a statement. 

The survey featured responses from 1,083 infection preventionists who serve in hospitals and health facilities across the United States. About 18% of respondents work in long-term care. 

Nearly 80% of respondents also said they’re concerned about the impact medical supply shortages will have in their healthcare facility during the flu season. More than 4 in 5 (84%) said they’re more concerned about supply shortages because of the pandemic.