What happens when you fail a fit test?

Nurses General Nursing

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So I went for my pre-employment physical and I failed the fit test. I tried on 4 different masks and still tasted the liquid sprayed in the mask. Will this be an issue for my orientation? The lady told me it happens to some people and I should be fine I just might not be able to go into airborne isolation rooms. Anyone with the same issues?

I was just thinking about this. My last fit test was very casual. Since I had failed a previous one, on the re-take we skipped all the movement stuff and I was told to remain still so the machine could give me a good score. At my last job, due to failing the mask fit, I was simply given an extra training, 1:1, 15 minutes, on how to use the hooded respirator and where it was located. At both facilities, I never saw any airborne precaution patients on my unit so it was all mostly hypothetical.

I am going to a new facility soon and wonder how they will handle it. Does anyone have any mask fit tips?

At my place, you'd still have to go into the rooms. You'd just wear a huge helmet that made you look like an astronaut. Everyone would fail their fit test if it meant they wouldn't be assigned any airborne isolation patients.

Its just weird that I tasted it in all the masks. I was trying to bypass it like I didnt taste it like i was doing something wrong but I could still taste the sweetener. I worked at a hospital previously and always used the small N95, but I cant say I dont taste it in my mouth when I do. She told me I might need a PAPR mask which i guess is the large helmer one.

Specializes in tele, ICU, CVICU.

I used to help Occupational health nurse a few years back, when annual fitting was due. There will always be the select few who the N95 doesn't work for.

The most common area that gave lots of staff issues was under the chin, specially when talking. Then of course the nose & ensuring the absence of gaps

Sorry I can't help. But you are far from alone.


I have a beard and can't wear N95. PAPR.

I've never not smelled/tasted that saccharine and I think my face is quite standard. lol. No special situations, anyway. I question the test itself. The N95 doesn't make that good a seal. I suspect people say they can't smell/taste it so they won't be told to wear the PAPR.

Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.

I am going to confess here. I always fail it to, but I lie and say I cannot taste it. I know for a fact I am not the only one.


Oh I tell them. Everyone who can honestly taste/smell it should fess up.

I did fit testing and there were always a handful of nurses who failed. Particularly when we switched to the quantitative test instead of the bitrex. You just wear a papr.

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty.

Am I crazy for PREFERRING the PAPR helmet/mask?

Our rooms are always hot, and our isolation gowns are basically a Hefty garbage bag (not the ones with a more paper/cloth feel that breathe a bit), so I prefer the air movement that you get with wearing a PAPR -- it helps dry the sweat on my face!

FWIW, my hospital did away with N95s entirely. Everyone just wears a PAPR.

I worked on a med/surg floor at my local hospital, in a rural area surrounded by several "big" cities. There were a lot of migrant workers, and we had several cases of confirmed TB a year or so ago. I'm shook at the reply that admits they lied and said they could not taste the spray when they could! I always took it seriously, knowing I had been in rooms with genuine exposure to TB before. Thank you genetics for my strong chin and jaw - I guess it did come in handy :up:

Those that could not pass the fit test wore a big hood (I'm sure i should know the name), it didn't affect their ability to perform patient care. Some nurses preferred the hood anyway, and requested one rather than the mask.

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