Predictions estimate supplies of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) would be limited in the event of a severe influenza pandemic. Ultraviolet decontamination and reuse (UVDR) is a potential approach to mitigate an FFR shortage. A field study sought to understand healthcare workers’ perspectives and potential logistics issues related to implementation of UVDR methods for FFRs in hospitals.
Data were collected at three hospitals using a structured guide to conduct 19 individual interviews, 103 focus group interviews, and 285 individual surveys. Data were then evaluated using thematic analysis to reveal key themes.
Data revealed noteworthy variation in FFR use across the sample, along with preferences and requirements for the use of UVDR, unit design, and FFR reuse. Based on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), the mean perception of safety in a high mortality pandemic wearing no FFR was 1.25 of 10, wearing an FFR for an extended period without decontamination was 4.20 of 10, and using UVDR was 7.72 of 10.
In addition to technical design and development, preparation and training will be essential to successful implementation of a UVDR program. Ultraviolet decontamination and reuse program design and implementation must account for actual clinical practice, compliance with regulations, and practical financial considerations to be successfully adopted so that it can mitigate potential FFR shortages in a pandemic.