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Covid-19: What’s the current advice for UK doctors?

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m978 (Published 10 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m978

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This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

I haven’t been fit tested for the correct masks (FFP3)? Can I be asked to go into a room with a patient with suspected or confirmed covid-19?

UK employers have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect staff from harm. And the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations place a duty to carry out individual risk assessments to identify hazards, quantify risks, and put suitable controls in place, says Steven Nimmo, editor of the Occupational Medicine Journal. “If the risk assessment establishes that personal protective equipment (PPE) is required then your employer must provide it, properly fit it, and provide suitable instruction and training in its use,” he says.

Public Health England’s guidance says that clinicians preparing to assess a patient with suspected covid-19 must wear PPE, which as a minimum should be a correctly fitted FFP3 respirator, gown, gloves, and eye protection.1 Doctors seeing patients with confirmed covid-19 must wear full PPE, including a FFP3 respirator, disposable eye protection, and preferably a visor, a long sleeved disposable gown, and gloves, PHE says. For symptomatic, unconfirmed patients, doctors should wear a fluid resistant surgical mask, gloves, apron and eye protection if there is a risk of splashing into the eyes, PHE recommends.2

I’m pregnant or immunosuppressed. What rights do I have to protect myself from infection at work?

“Pregnant women and children are not at high risk,” Nimmo says. “But the above legal obligations still apply. Immunosuppressed people may well be at increased risk, depending on the reason for the immunosuppression, and drug type and dosage, and so on. The risk assessment should take this into account. The advice may well be to avoid exposure to covid-19, which …

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