Background: Italy was the first Western country to be heavily affected by COVID-19. Healthcare workers (HCWs) were exposed to a high risk of occupational infection, partially due to insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies. This study aimed to describe the practices, availability, training, confidence in PPE use and the adverse effects due to extended PPE use, as reported by HCWs in Italy. We also aimed to provide a comparison between Italian data and those from other countries. Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of a previously published international study, the PPE-SAFE Survey, conducted in April 2020. Data were analysed from the original study database. Results: We analysed the responses from 380 healthcare workers based in Italy, out of the 2711 respondents to the international survey. Among the Italian respondents, FFP2 and FFP3 respirators or equivalent were the most used masks for routine tasks (respectively 188/380, 50%; and 163/380, 43%). The median time of wearing PPE without taking a break was 5 h [interquartile range (IQR) 4–6], with statistically significant difference from other countries [median 4 h (IQR 2–5) p < 0.0001]. In Italy, 249 out of 380 (65%) HCWs had never performed a formal fit test for a N95 mask or equivalent and 91/380 (24%) never had a partner for donning and doffing procedures. Most of the respondents (299/380, 79%) had received formal training in PPE use at any time. Conclusion: Most of the surveyed Italian HCWs reported working at above usual capacity, long shifts with PPE without breaks and routine use in intensive care unit of aerosol protection (e.g. FFP2/FFP3), hazmat suits and face shields/visors. The correct adherence to safety procedures (e.g. donning/doffing in pairs, performing fit test) has substantial scope for improvement in the future.
- personal protective equipment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases
- Pharmacology (medical)