Proper Use of N95 Respirators

Beth Clarke, RN, MSc(A), MBA, CWOCN; Nanci Haze RN, MSN, CPNP; Jacqueline Sly, RN, MSN, NP-C; Allan Thomas, MSN, CRNA; Patricia Reid Ponte, DNSc, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC; Corrine Y. Jurgens, PhD, RN, ANP, FAHA, FHFSA, FAAN


Am Nurs Journal. 2020;15(10) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Hospitals and clinics have experienced severe personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic began, requiring them to be strategic in optimizing use and reuse of all PPE, including N95 respirators. N95 respirators are single-use items that are disposed of after each patient encounter, so they should be available in sufficient quantities to avoid reuse. However, given the current shortages, nurses have been forced to use one N95 respirator for their entire shift or for multiple days.

Based on current evidence, extended use and limited reuse may be safe if proper doffing and re-donning steps are followed, but more research is needed. In addition, reusing a potentially contaminated N95 respirator adds risk of exposure to pathogens. Nurses should follow best practices for safe extended wear, reuse, and multiple-day use of N95 respirators.