Sur­gi­cal masks

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – The team at Im­pe­rial Col­lege is to be ap­plauded for try­ing to find ways of bring­ing down spi­ralling costs of the NHS (“‘Use­less’ sur­gi­cal masks could be scrapped”, re­port, Novem­ber 8).

How­ever, we were sur­prised to read that sur­gi­cal masks are re­garded as point­less. Not all equipment used in surgery is for the exclusive ben­e­fit of the pa­tient, but may offer pro­tec­tion for the med­i­cal team at­tend­ing them.

Face masks, es­pe­cially those with clear vi­sors, pro­tect the op­er­a­tor and as­sis­tant from blood splashes. A study we un­der­took showed that the sur­geon re­ceived splashes to the mask in 33 per cent of skin surgery pro­ce­dures and the as­sis­tant in 15 per cent.

Cost sav­ings of re­mov­ing sur­gi­cal masks from op­er­at­ing the­atres would be sig­nif­i­cantly out­weighed by just one health­care worker be­com­ing in­fected by ex­po­sure to bodily flu­ids of a pa­tient that they are treat­ing. Dr An­drew Birnie

Con­sul­tant Der­ma­tol­o­gist, East Kent Hos­pi­tals NHS Trust, Can­ter­bury Dr Sunny Varma

Con­sul­tant Der­ma­tol­o­gist, Not­ting­ham NHS Treat­ment Cen­tre

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