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mouthcare with covid-suspect patients


Specializes in med-surg ward / coronaward. Has 7 years experience.


I am an RN working at a medical turned corona floor and we treat covid-suspect and covid-positive patients, in Europe, but I have been reading allnurses for years. At the moment we wear surgical masks + gowns and face shields, hats and gloves with all suspects or positives in all situations. We are only allowed to wear ffp2 or ffp3 masks in certain procedures such as suctioning or other aerosol producing procedures, or when taking a swab test. Some of our patients are very mucuous (is that a word?) and cough very much, and most of them are not able to do their own mouth care. So I have been wondering...should I / are you wearing the heavier masks when doing mouthcare for a patient?

I think at the moment many just skip the mouthcare part, because it feels risky etc., and actually we have been advised to avoid all unnecessary treatments, not really specificing what is unnecessary. HOWEVER it feels horrible to leave patients with dirty mouths and its not good care. What are your policies and how do you do this?

We wear N95 or PAPR for all suspected and confirmed COVID patients, regardless of the type of nursing care that is being done. Since mouthcare almost always involves some suctioning, I would use that to argue in favor of a N95 (or whatever your equivalent airborne isolation mask is). In the beginning of this crisis, my hospital tried to tell us that we only needed N95 for aerosol-generating procedures, but we fought like hell to get N95/PAPR for all COVID patients.