COVID-19: Biosafety in the Intensive Care Unit

Curr Trop Med Rep. 2020 Aug 27;1-8. doi: 10.1007/s40475-020-00208-z. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Purpose of review: COVID-19 is a new, highly transmissible disease to which healthcare workers (HCWs) are exposed, especially in the intensive care unit (ICU). Information related to protection mechanisms is heterogeneous, and the infected HCWs' number is increasing. This review intends to summarize the current knowledge and practices to protect ICU personnel during the patient management process in the context of the current pandemic.

Recent findings: The transmission mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 are mainly respiratory droplets, aerosols, and contact. The virus can last for a few hours suspended in the air and be viable on surfaces for several days. Some procedures carried out in the ICU can generate aerosols. The shortage of respirators, such as the N95, has generated an increase in the demand for other protective equipment in critical care settings.

Summary: The probability of transmission depends on the characteristics of the pathogen, the availability of quality personal protective equipment, and the human factors associated with the performance of health workers. It is necessary to have knowledge of the virus and availability of the best possible personal protection equipment, develop skills for handling equipment, and develop non-technical skills during all intensive care process; this can be achieved through structured training.

Keywords: Biosafety; COVID-19; Cooperative behavior; Critical care unit; Education; Medical; Personal protective equipment; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review