Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a critical element for contagion management and control in medical settings. Public healthcare emergencies accentuate the issue and expose the problems associated with ensuring that essential workers, medical professionals, specifically, can protect themselves from an infection or a virus (Patel et al., 2017). The high risk of exposure and constant contact with large groups and vulnerable populations highlights the need to draw public attention to the topic. Occupational safety and health of medical workers is a question that can influence the well-being of entire communities but seems to be neglected by governmental structures.
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In the current global healthcare situation, the number of contagious patients that need healthcare augmented suddenly. The demand for PPE that the COVID-19 pandemic created and the government’s inability to satisfy it posed several questions and accentuated the necessity to reconsider the supply chain for such vital medical paraphernalia as PPE, shortage of which jeopardizes innumerable lives (Livingston et al., 2020). Given that medical professionals care for societies at large, mortality caused by the absence of PPE is not limited to doctors and nurses but also extends to endangered demographics (Livingston et al., 2020). Therefore, the PPE supply chain to hospitals and its reliability during medical emergencies is a sub-topic of heightened interest.
A research paper dedicated to the topic could assist in identifying lacunas in the PPE supply chain and determine how healthcare emergencies modify it. Exploring the topic could increase the awareness of the issue, accumulating collective effort to change how PPE is furnished and stocked locally in medical facilities. The problem has already been examined during the Western African Ebola virus epidemic, and official recommendations for hospitals were issued, which provides a considerable theoretical and practical basis, rendering the task more obtainable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016). Furthermore, H1N1 and Ebola responses identified areas for improvement, such as lack of coordination between the public and private sectors (Patel et al., 2017). Soliciting additional federal assistance and working directly with providers are other areas that previous healthcare emergencies proved crucial (CDC, 2016). Exploring the topic further may help determine the means to prevent future PPE shortages in medical facilities and ensure the functionality and dependability of this medical paraphernalia’s supply chains. Therefore, barriers that can be found in the PPE supply chain to hospitals during global medical emergencies and methods to overcome them are the principal concerns of the proposed study.
Although investigating methods to secure the PPE supply chain in the case of an infectious disease outbreak is beneficial for societies at large, medical professionals are the primary target population. Among them, those healthcare workers who contact infectious patients constitute a group significant for the research. Given the specificities of provided care, nurses seem to be an especially vulnerable subcategory as they are the most involved in direct interactions with patients. The role nurses effectuate during a pandemic requires them to provide primary care, patient education, and manage professional supplies and equipment. The circumstances of a pandemic frequently force nurses into working overtime, increasing their exposure, and susceptibility.
Conclusively, the current state of global healthcare caused by the COVID-19 pandemic renewed problems that the Swine flu pandemic of 2009 and Ebola epidemic exposed. Nonetheless, the current healthcare emergency scope created new, exposed, and enhanced already existing difficulties regarding PPE supply and underequipped hospitals. Research dedicated to personal protective equipment supply could not only, to a degree, increase awareness of the issue but also discern gaps in knowledge apropos of these supply chains.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Considerations for U.S healthcare facilities to ensure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Ebola preparedness. Web.
Livingston, E., Desai, A., & Berkwits, M. (2020). Sourcing personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA, 1-3.
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Patel, A., D’Alessandro, M. M., Ireland, K. J., Burel, W. G., Wencil, E. B., & Rasmussen, S. A. (2017). Personal protective equipment supply chain: Lessons learned from recent public health emergency responses. Health Security, 15(3), 244–252.