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Australian emergency nurses' experiences of working with personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. A qualitative study
journal contributionposted on 2023-09-14, 06:33 authored by Penelope Dempster, Ana Hutchinson, Elizabeth Oldland, Stephane BouchouchaStephane Bouchoucha
INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a need to understand the challenges associated with wearing Personal protective Equipment (PPE). The aim in this study was to explore emergency nurses' experiences early in the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and the impact of PPE use on their practice. METHODS: An explorative descriptive qualitative study was conducted between January 2022 and April 2022. Eighteen emergency nurses and six leaders participated. Semi-structured interviews (n = 21) and one focus group were conducted. Interview transcripts were analysed using Braun and Clarke's framework. RESULTS: Two major themes were identified. The first theme was: (1) The shifting ground of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Associated sub-themes were: i) What's the go with PPE today? ii) In the beginning we were scrambling for masks; iii) Emergency is the true frontline. The second theme was: (2) Physical and emotional impacts of emergency nursing work. Sub-themes were: (i) Facing the fear of exposure; (ii) By the end of the shift I am just absolutely spent; iii) Discomfort of wearing PPE impacts on compliance. CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare leaders need to secure PPE supply chains and evaluate the effectiveness and side-effects of different PPE designs to minimise occupational harms associated with prolonged PPE use.