The Joint Commission Statement on Personal Face Masks Provided from Home

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On March 31, 2020, The Joint Commission issued this statement “supporting the use of standard face masks and/or respirators provided from home when health care organizations cannot provide access to protective equipment that is commensurate with the risk health care workers are exposed to amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“In taking this position, The Joint Commission recognizes:

  1. Hospitals must conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) when these items are in short supply to protect staff who perform high-risk procedures.
  2. The degree to which privately-owned masks and respirators will increase the protection of healthcare workers is uncertain, but the balance of evidence suggests that it is positive.
  3. No Joint Commission standards or other requirements prohibit staff from using PPE brought from home.
  4. Homemade masks are an extreme measure and should be used only when standard PPE of proven protective value is unavailable.”

The evidence assessment and policy analysis that is the foundation of this statement may be found on page 2 of this 4-page document.  The document includes this information:

  • Position Statement: Staff Use of Their Own Personal Protective Equipment in Healthcare Settings
  • Wearing N95 Respirators Instead of Surgical Masks
  • Universal Precautions: Wearing Masks Routinely Throughout the Day
  • Summary

The summary includes this final statement:

“Clearly, homemade masks are an extreme measure and should be used only when standard PPE of proven protective value is unavailable. The use of homemade masks underscores that we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all healthcare workers have the proper PPE they need. Scientific studies of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission and optimal PPE are ongoing, and we will update this statement as further evidence emerges.”