Surgical masks should protect the patient from the doctor and the doctor from the patient. There is ample evidence that pathogenic organisms such as tubercle bacilli and streptococci are expelled by coughing and sneezing and to a less extent by talking; occasionally staphylococci appear to be disseminated during normal nasal breathing. It is therefore logical to wear an adequate mask covering the nose and mouth to protect susceptible patients from infection. A susceptible patient is (1) any person with a wound providing access to bacteria, (this includes patients undergoing minor procedures, such as chest aspiration); (2) any relatively non-immune patient (e. g. infants, patients on the first post-operative day). Attendants should protect themselves with masks when dealing with patients suffering from any major infection, of the nose, mouth or respiratory tract.
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