The Joint Commission has issued a statement supporting the use of standard face masks and/or respirators provided from home when healthcare organizations cannot provide access to protective equipment that is commensurate with the risk healthcare workers are exposed to amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In taking this position, The Joint Commission recognizes:
- Hospitals must conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) when these items are in short supply to protect staff who perform high-risk procedures.
- The degree to which privately-owned masks and respirators will increase the protection of healthcare workers is uncertain. However, the balance of evidence suggests that it is positive.
- No Joint Commission standards or other requirements prohibit staff from using PPE provided from home.
- Homemade masks are an extreme measure and should be used only when standard PPE of proven protective value is unavailable.
The Joint Commission is painfully aware of the current shortages of PPE, ventilators, and swab kits at hospitals and other healthcare organizations across the nation, the organization said in a statement.. It recently issued a public statement on shortages of critical medical equipment that strongly supports emergency efforts at the federal level to dramatically increase the production and distribution of PPE and other necessary medical equipment and supplies, as well as the availability of telehealth services.