CHICAGO – Anesthesia professionals – who are in close contact as they help patients breathe through airway equipment – are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and should wear N95 masks or similarly protective equipment including diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical procedures, according to an updated statement from The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
Due to potential shortages of these masks, the joint statement agrees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that alternatives to N95 masks should be considered, including powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs), and that partnering with other industries to repurpose the masks they use – including construction and manufacturing – can help increase the supply.
The updated ASA/APSF/AAAA/AANA statement notes:
• Distribution of N95 masks or availability of powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) for all clinical anesthesia providers should be a priority.
• Growing experience shows a 5-day or longer incubation time exists between exposure to the virus and symptom development.
• People who are COVID-19-positive can be either asymptomatic or have minimal symptoms.
• Testing for COVID-19 is not universally or promptly available.
• Identification of patients who are positive or negative for COVID-19 is not possible with certainty in the clinical care setting.
• It is optimal practice that all anesthesia professionals use PPE appropriate for aerosol-generating procedures for all patients when working near a patient’s airway.
• If a facility has existing or projected shortages of N95 masks or PAPRs, temporary mitigation plans should be enacted based on current CDC recommendations.
• Extended or limited reuse of N95 masks should follow CDC and institutional guidelines.
Read the complete, updated statement here.
ASA, APSF, AAAA and AANA continue to monitor COVID-19 to evaluate and manage its impact on members, the health care community, patients, and staff. Additional important information on anesthesia care in the COVID-19 pandemic will be regularly updated on ASA, APSF, AAAA and AANA web pages.
About American Society of Anesthesiologists
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 54,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
About Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation
Founded in 1985, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) promotes research of perioperative patient safety issues, supports the development of careers in patient safety, provides patient safety educational materials and communications to all anesthesia providers, and advocates for changes in clinical practices that improve patient safety. The APSF’s goal is that no one shall be harmed by anesthesia care. The APSF is a related organization of ASA. APSF provides support for research and education in perioperative patient safety. Its past initiatives have resulted in significant contributions to the field of anesthesia patient safety. APSF has distributed over $12 million in funding for anesthesia patient safety research projects over its 30+ year history. For more information on APSF or to donate, please visit www.apsf.org.
About American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants
Founded in 1975, the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA®) is the national organization dedicated to the ethical advancement of the Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant (CAA) profession and to excellence in patient care through education, advocacy, and promotion of the Anesthesia Care Team. With more than 1,500 members, AAAA® leads initiatives to license CAAs throughout the U.S. Learn more at www.anesthetist.org.
About American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists is the professional organization for the nation’s 54,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists. As anesthesia professionals, CRNAs safely administer more than 49 million anesthetics to patients each year. Learn more at aana.com.
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