Use of personal protective equipment in nursing practice

Nurs Stand. 2019 Apr 26;34(5):59-66. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11260.


A comprehensive understanding of infection prevention and control is essential for nurses when seeking to protect themselves, patients, colleagues and the general public from the transmission of infection. Personal protective equipment (PPE) - such as gloves, aprons and/or gowns, and eye protection - is an important aspect of infection prevention and control for all healthcare staff, including nurses. Its use requires effective assessment, an understanding of the suitability of various types of PPE in various clinical scenarios, and appropriate application. Understanding the role of PPE will enable nurses to use it appropriately and reduce unnecessary cost, while ensuring that the nurse-patient relationship remains central to care. This article defines PPE and its components, outlines when it should be used and details its optimal application.

Keywords: bacterial infections; blood-borne viruses; communicable diseases; cross-infection; hand hygiene; health and safety; infection; infection control; infection prevention; occupational health; public health; viral infections.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Gloves, Protective / standards
  • Health Personnel / standards
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / instrumentation*
  • Infection Control / standards
  • Nurses*
  • Nursing / standards
  • Personal Protective Equipment / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom