August 18, 2009

Hospitals regulate use of N95 masks

Even as the hysteria over masks escalated in the market with more people flocking to chemists to buy one, doctors in government hospitals said they were ensuring the N95 masks were used only by designated medical staff and no wastage occurs.

On Friday, doctors, while admitting masks were available in the hospitals, said a strict vigil was being kept to ensure no wastage occurs. Said Dr Amit Banerjee, MS, Lok Nayak Hospital, "We have mandated that only the personnel who come in direct contact with H1N1 patients wear these masks.''

Doctors in RML too admitted that the N95 masks were in great demand, and therefore were being used with utmost care. Said a senior doctor, "Earlier, the masks were used only when working on specific tasks. Now, being part of the screening team, it is required through the duty hours. Since we heard about the doctors in other hospitals coming down with H1N1, no one is taking chances.''

Minister of health Kiran Walia said the government was ensuring that no shortage was felt in hospitals when it came to either the medication or N95 masks. "To ensure that supply is adequate, we've bought around 11 lakh masks for our medical personnel. Hospital administrations are keeping us informed about their stock. We will get more masks if the stock goes down,'' she said. Asked if the government would conduct the same vigil for the general public, Walia said if complaints come in about the availability and pricing of the masks, the government would take action.

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