04 Dec 2023
30 Nov 2023
In areas with inadequate supply and/or increasing demand for such equipment, many ethical considerations have been taken into account regarding the adequate availability of PPE for clinicians who are in contact with COVID-19 patients. This survey study aimed to investigate the impact of PPE shortage in Saudi Arabia on some ethical considerations regarding HCWs and patient communication. The study was conducted as an online cross-sectional survey from July 2020 to December 2020, with eligible HCWs from different academic, governmental, and private sectors in Saudi Arabia. A total of 453 valid responses were included in the final analysis. The mean age of the participants was 37.5±8.5 years, and 62.0% of them identified as male. Most participants (62.3%) reported having faced a shortage/lack of PPE, with 78.8% of them having experienced difficulties in procuring PPE at the time of need; only 15.7% did not have any previous experience in using PPE. While training courses regarding the proper use of PPE were offered to most participants (88.1%), about one-third of the participants (36.0%) reported that their hospitals did not have a clear protocol on who should have priority in using PPE. Noteworthy, 47.9% of the participants believed the refusal to treat patients in the absence of PPE to be an ethical act, regardless of the kind of illness the patient was suffering from, while 32.9% of them considered it to be ethical only if the patient was a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 case. A greater number of participants (43.3%) reported that the admitted patients were aware of the importance of the doctors wearing PPE. This study indicated a huge shortage of PPE supplies among Saudi healthcare facilities. Further approaches need to be adopted to ensure adequate availability of PPE, so HCWs could maintain the best quality of care.