Wearing a mask in a hallway

by FlyingJoey FlyingJoey (New) New

I live in Southern California so I can safely say that I live with allergies 7/24/365. And it gets worse when the weather gets drier. Anyway, so I have chronic dry cough from nasal drip due to allergies.

I was discharging my patient one day and I decided to wear a mask while taking him to his car on a wheelchair because I did not want to sneeze or cough on top of his head.

And our infection control nurse came and started talking about infection control and not wearing PPEs outside patient's room, etc. And her lecture ended with "Don't wear a mask. Cough into your sleeve instead. Or you should have called in sick".

So.. should I call in sick everytime I get allergy attacks? I wore a mask to protect my patient from me and no one likes to see a nurse coughing in front of them. I did explain to my patient that I did not have cold/flu/any other infectious condition but allergies before putting on a mask.

I understand that it's a CDC guideline but I just couldn't find a logic behind 'do not wear a mask outside patient's room' policy to prevent infection. Can someone help me understand?


marie.rn2419, RN

Specializes in ICU. 71 Posts

That's interesting, because during flu season, if you will not/are unable to get a flu shot, my big hospital system requires you to wear a mask at all times during your shift for the entirety of the season. So, what's the difference really?



6 Posts

Exactly. Infection control nurse said, "you can wear a mask only during flu season if you're not vaccinated but you cannot wear it when flu season is over."

I just don't get it...

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience. 5,047 Posts

So on May 2, the mask transforms from an effective prevention measure to an infection risk? And yeah, calling in sick for every episode of the sniffles won't go over well.



149 Posts

I assume the CDC guideline is about masks that have been worn for isolation purposes in a potentially contagious patient's room. But wearing a mask to protect your patients from YOUR germs is an entirely different matter and your infection control nurse should know this. The optics may be bad, which is why you tell your patients your reason for wearing a mask (also to reassure them that they don't have some horrible mysterious illness). You have every right to wear a mask.

Decongestants and/or antihistamines don't help? Chronic nasal drip is annoying. Can your doctor suggest something?



6 Posts

I take claritin everyday and zyrtec/benadryl as needed. I get knocked out by zyrtec or benadryl so I can't take them when I work. It seems like Flonase stopped working for me so I'm going to wait for a couple months before using it again. Maybe I should ask my PCP for allergy shots.

Anyway, yes that's how I understood CDC guidelines but I guess our infection control nurse did not. She wrote to my manager already and my manager kind of laughed about it saying it's interesting that wearing a mask is mandatory during flu season and it suddenly becomes no-no when flu season is over. I was wondering if the infection control nurse knows something that I don't.

Thank you very much for your thorough answers!

Have Nurse

Have Nurse, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg/Infection Control/Geriatrics. Has 32 years experience. 15 Articles; 719 Posts

There's no harm in wearing a clean mask to protect others. Many facilities offer that option. If you explain your situation to her and that you are doing it to be prudent, it shouldn't be an issue. You can always speak to the D.O.N. If there is a policy that addresses this, have her show it to both of you so you may clear up any misunderstandings.


Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 36 years experience. 515 Posts

Bet she's not asking you to take the mask off now!