COVID-19: rules tightened on personal protective equipment for CPR

Healthcare staff must put on ‘aerosol’ type protection before trying to resuscitate people with COVID-19

Picture shows a medic in protective gear. New guidance has been issued for nurses wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during CPR attempts on patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19.
Picture: Shutterstock

New guidance on wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) has been issued for nurses attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on patients who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19.

The Resuscitation Council UK guidance applies to resuscitation of patients in hospitals and highlights the need for healthcare staff to wear protective equipment suitable for aerosol generating procedures (AGP).

Resuscitation Council UK says: ‘Equipment must be made readily available to protect staff during resuscitation attempts. It is acknowledged that this may cause a brief delay to starting chest compressions, but the safety of staff is paramount.’

This level of protective equipment includes a filtering face piece class 3 respirator or FFP3, eye protection, a disposable long-sleeve gown and gloves, according to separate government COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance.

What the new guidance states

The new guidance states nurses and other staff:

  • Must not listen or feel for breathing by placing ears or cheeks close to the patient’s mouth.
  • Must not carry out chest compressions or airway procedures, such as tracheal intubation, without appropriate PPE.
  • May use a defibrillator if someone collapses without PPE, potentially negating the need for chest compressions and allowing time for others to begin donning PPE.

Crucial to do CPR for a person in cardiac arrest

In a statement Resuscitation Council UK said: ‘We are aware of the concerns regarding risk of transmission of COVID-19, but wish to emphasise the crucial importance of doing CPR for the person in cardiac arrest.’

The resources also stress that decisions on ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ or DNACPR must be well-documented and communicated in advance.

Separate Resuscitation Council UK guidance is available for staff working in the community.

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