COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS: HOW TO SAVE TIME FIT TESTING HOSPITAL STAFF AND MEDICAL TEAMS

Staff who must wear respirators for work are already required to be fit tested annually. However, during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be necessary to fit test more staff than usual. In some cases, those already fit tested may need additional testing to assess new masks or different respirator types.

Fit testing large groups can take a lot of time, but there are tools and techniques to streamline the process.

A SINGLE QUALITATIVE FIT TEST CAN RUN 23 MINUTES OR MORE

Many healthcare facilities use manual, time-consuming qualitative fit tests that use Saccharin or Bitrex as the challenge agent. According to OSHA, those methods take 7 minutes for the seven-step protocol. Additional steps like threshold testing, a mandatory wear-off period, and an OSHA required comfort assessment period add even more time, totaling 23 minutes or more per test.

A fit test using a PortaCount Respirator Fit Tester finishes in less than 2 ½ minutes for any respirator, including any N95 mask. Adding the pre-test 5-minute comfort assessment, users can complete a fit test in 7 ½ minutes.

DOING THE MATH

We wanted to learn how this difference in fit testing time could affect hospitals that now face large-scale crisis scenarios around the world. The comparison was dramatic.

Qualitative Fit Testing with Saccharin or Bitrex for 100 staff with N95s

  • At approximately 23 minutes per test, which includes:
    • 1–3 minutes (approx.) - Threshold Screening Test
    • 10 minutes – Threshold test wear-off time
    • 5 minutes – Comfort assessment
    • 7 minutes – One OSHA compliant fit test

o    TOTAL FIT TEST TIME = 38.33 HOURS

Quantitative Fit Testing with PortaCount Respirator Fit Testers for 100 staff with N95s

  • At approximately 7.5 minutes per test, which includes:
    • 5 minutes – Comfort assessment
    • 2.5 minutes - One OSHA compliant fit test

o    TOTAL FIT TEST TIME = 12.50 HOURS

PortaCount Fit Testers save hospitals nearly 26 hours—or almost three 8-hour days—to fit test just 100 staff. Imagine the saved time for those fit testing hundreds or thousands of hospital staff.