Historically, selecting a mask based on user preference has been a common practice in the OR. Face masks were originally designed to protect the patient from microorganisms expelled from the mouth during talking, sneezing and coughing. 1 In other words, face masks were designed to protect the patient from the healthcare practitioner, not the other way around.
Which Mask is Correct?
If the clinician does not face a threat of exposure to fluids or smoke, most surgical masks available will provide sufficient protection. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses’ (AORN) recommended practices, “all individuals entering restricted areas of the OR suite should wear a mask when open sterile items and equipment are present.” Masks should fully cover both the nose and mouth and be secured in a manner that prevents venting.5 All ties on the mask should be secured appropriately.