For Residents

Double Masking and Decontamination: A Doctor's COVID-19 Routine

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There's also transmission risk associated with shared equipment. We share hospital-provided phones and they must be disinfected. We are each disinfecting our own workspaces: computer, keyboard, mouse, and countertop.

Obviously you are trying to minimize any contact with your mouth or face. You don't want to rub your eyes, touch your nose, or eat anything with your hands while you are at work. The assumption is that you are doing very frequent hand hygiene.

Decontamination Routine

One of our concerns as healthcare providers is the possibility that we could, either asymptomatically or through the objects that we use at work, be bringing the disease home. We want to protect the people who may be at higher risk just because they live with a healthcare provider. These are the decontamination practices I've developed for my own situation, taken from best practices and suggestions from others.

I remove my dirty scrubs and leave them at work, and I change into a clean pair of scrubs or clean clothes. I disinfect any inanimate objects that my hands may have touched during the shift using alcohol, sanitizer wipes, bleach wipes, or hospital-grade chemical wipes.

To keep those objects clean after disinfecting, I place them in clean plastic bags away from other objects (eg, a wallet or purse) that may not be easy to disinfect. Then I store those bags in the trunk of my car for my next shift, so I'm not taking them into my home.

I also change my shoes, leaving my work shoes in the trunk of my car, and wear another pair of shoes into the house.

When I get home, I basically do everything again. I disinfect my phone, I wash my hands, and I shower immediately. At that point, I consider myself sufficiently "disinfected."

Gary S. Ferenchick, MD, MS, is a family physician and professor in the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. His daughter, Hannah R.B. Ferenchick, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, and a medical intensivist and emergency medicine physician at Detroit Medical Center.


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