Caring for patients with COVID-19 requires wearing a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid contamination. Personal discomfort has been associated with use of PPE, and anecdotal reports describe pressure injuries related to wearing PPE.


To investigate the occurrence of device-related pressure injuries due to wearing PPE among Italian nurses caring for patients with COVID-19 in critical care settings.


This descriptive study used an online survey investigating both the demographic characteristics of respondents and complications related to wearing PPE, including the development of pressure injuries.


A total of 266 nurses throughout Italy completed the survey; 32% of respondents were men. Nurses’ median age was 36 years (range 22-59 years), and the median time spent working in their current clinical setting (an intensive care or high-dependency unit) was 3 years (range 0-32 years). Personal protective equipment was worn for a median duration of 5 hours (range 2-12 hours). While wearing PPE, 92.8% of nurses experienced pain and 77.1% developed device-related pressure injuries, mainly on the nose, ears, and forehead. Pain was more frequent among nurses with such injuries. Transparent dressings, emollient cream, and no dressing were associated with development of device-related pressure injury.


Pressure injuries related to PPE represent an important adverse effect for nurses caring for patients with COVID-19. This topic deserves study to determine adequate solutions for preventing and treating such injuries and their potential influence on nurses’ work tolerance.

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