Doctors should not begin CPR on a patient with suspected or known Covid-19 until the are wearing the minimum PPE recommended by the Resuscitation Council UK for aerosol generating procedures, according to a statement by the Royal College of Physicians.

This includes disposable gloves, disposable gown, FFP3 respirator and disposable eye protection. 

Public Health England provided updated guidance on managing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) on Friday and the RCP says that doctors must follow the PHE guidance for infection prevention and control, but they should follow RSUK guidance in relation to CPR and resuscitation.

The PHE guidance particularly addresses the current shortage of gowns, saying there are three main options that can be considered as alternatives:

  • Reserve disposable, fluid repellent gown or coveralls for AGPs and surgical procedures.
  • Disposable, non-fluid repellent gowns or coveralls with a disposable plastic apron for high-risk settings and AGPs with forearm washing once gown or coverall is removed.
  • Reusable (washable) surgical gowns or coveralls or similar suitable clothing (for example, long-sleeved laboratory coat, long-sleeved patient gown or industrial coverall) with a disposable plastic apron for AGPs and high-risk settings with forearm washing once gown or coverall is removed. These would need to be washed in a hospital laundry and capacity for hospital laundries may need to be increased.

Lack of PPE will limit our ability to fight this virus

RCP president, Professor Andrew Goddard, said: “It is now patently clear to everyone that the lack of PPE is the major issue that will limit our ability to fight this virus. These new measures are, at best, a sticking plaster. They will cause consternation among health and social care workers, all of whom are literally putting their lives on the line, as we are sadly all too aware.

“The lockdown is working: we are getting the virus under control out in the community. The lack of PPE risks allowing the virus to cause significantly more harm in hospitals and care settings. The government must redouble its efforts to solve this, the most critical of issues facing us in delivering the care our patients deserve.”

The RCP said that since March, it has been asking our fellows and members to tell us if they are unable to access the appropriate PPE, and about the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce. They said they have been sending that information to NHS England and government, and we will continue to do so.