RCSI: New Treatment Can Reduce Risk of PPE Facial Injuries in Frontline Healthcare Workers

20 April 2021
RCSI: New Treatment Can Reduce Risk of PPE Facial Injuries in Frontline Healthcare Workers

A study by Fleming Medical partner, RCSI, has found that a new ‘care bundle’ can reduce the incidence of Facial Pressure Injuries (FPIs) in frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers caused by the prolonged wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Fleming Medical and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) are long time partners and collaborators who both have a passion to help emerging healthcare professionals by supporting advancing technology in the healthcare industry.

Most recently, Fleming Medical supported an initiative by RCSI to help frontline workers with Facial Pressure Injuries (FPI) due to prolonged wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report entitled “Comfort for Carers” wanted to highlight and “ensure that staff may work without harm from the use of equipment that is meant to be, in the first instance, protective in nature”.

The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences Skin Wounds and Trauma (SWaT) Research Centre, is published in the current edition of Journal of Wound Care.

The research took place over a two-month period amongst healthcare workers in a large acute hospital in Ireland. Approximately 300 frontline staff were provided with a care bundle, designed in line with international best practice and comprising of face cleansing material (WaterWipesTM baby wipes), moisturising balm (Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin BalmTM) and protective tape (Mepitac Tape).

Results showed that prior to using the care bundle 29% of respondents developed FPIs, whereas after using it only 8% of respondents developed FPIs. The analysis revealed that users of the care bundle were almost five times less likely to develop an FPI. In a secondary finding, staff reported that the bundle was easy to use, safe and effective.

Professor Zena Moore, SWaT Researcher Centre Director and Head of the RCSI School of Nursing and Midwifery, was the lead researcher on the study. Prof. Moore said: "We are acutely aware of the facial injuries, such as pressure ulcers, bruises and skin tears that healthcare workers are experiencing due to the prolonged wearing of protective equipment during the pandemic and especially the wearing of medical face masks. These injuries can be painful for staff and injuries, in some cases, can put them at increased risk of infection. This study is the first of its kind carried out at the height of the pandemic in an effort to help mitigate the occurrence of Facial Pressure Injuries. The results tell us that when skincare is prioritised, and a systematic, preventative care bundle approach is adopted, there are clear benefits for the frontline workers and the workplaces involved."

Part of RCSI's School of Nursing and Midwifery, the SWaT Research Centre is leading cutting-edge research in the field of wound healing and tissue repair, with a specific emphasis on pressure ulcer prevention and management.

Fleming Medical were delighted to be a part of the study and congratulate RCSI on their research and results. To learn more about our partnership with RCSI, visit our partner page.