Purpose: To survey healthcare workers (HCW) on availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) caring for COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Materials and method: A web-based survey distributed worldwide in April 2020. Results: We received 2711 responses from 1797 (67%) physicians, 744 (27%) nurses, and 170 (6%) Allied HCW. For routine care, most (1557, 58%) reportedly used FFP2/N95 masks, waterproof long sleeve gowns (1623; 67%), and face shields/visors (1574; 62%). Powered Air-Purifying Respirators were used routinely and for intubation only by 184 (7%) and 254 (13%) respondents, respectively. Surgical masks were used for routine care by 289 (15%) and 47 (2%) for intubations. At least one piece of standard PPE was unavailable for 1402 (52%), and 817 (30%) reported reusing single-use PPE. PPE was worn for a median of 4 h (IQR 2, 5). Adverse effects of PPE were associated with longer shift durations and included heat (1266, 51%), thirst (1174, 47%), pressure areas (1088, 44%), headaches (696, 28%), Inability to use the bathroom (661, 27%) and extreme exhaustion (492, 20%). Conclusions: HCWs reported widespread shortages, frequent reuse of, and adverse effects related to PPE. Urgent action by healthcare administrators, policymakers, governments and industry is warranted.
- Health care workers
- Intensive care
- Personal protective equipment