Last updated: August 28, 2020

Hour by hour, nurses and other healthcare workers are using more personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic than ever before, and shutdowns of medical supply manufacturing in other countries means that the finite resources are starting to run out. Many hospitals and clinics are already experiencing a PPE shortage, and most others are quickly approaching.

Although ONS supports full protection of healthcare workers handling drugs for cancer treatment that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has deemed hazardous, nurses in clinical settings are facing difficult choices if recommended PPE supplies are not available. To protect healthcare workers during the PPE crisis, ONS created interim COVID-19 PPE guidelines that offer tiered approach options for use of gowns, gloves, and masks during the pandemic based on the severity of the shortage in different settings.

“ONS exists to support oncology nurses and other healthcare workers, especially during times of crisis,” ONS President Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, said. “During a situation like the pandemic, the top priority shifts to protecting staff against the most immediate threat—COVID-19 infection. These interim guidelines are temporary deviations from ONS’s typical PPE recommendations to make the most of the minimal resources available right now.”

The ONS interim COVID-19 PPE guidelines are intended to be used only during the PPE shortages from the pandemic. Although some of the recommendations may differ from what ONS has advised previously, they provide options for clinical practice and cancer treatment based on PPE availability while prioritizing the safety of patients and staff during the pandemic.  

How else can you help? Share the guidelines with any other frontline care staff, and tell your members of Congress to do everything possible to increase PPE distribution and prioritization to healthcare personnel.