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March 10, 2010

Surgical Masks vs N95 Respirators for Preventing Influenza

JAMA. 2010;303(10):937-939. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.192

To the Editor: The randomized trial by Dr Loeb and colleagues1 compared surgical masks with N95 respirators for preventing influenza in health care workers. It demonstrated that the lower-cost surgical masks may be as effective as the N95 respirators.

The need for N95 respirator fit testing adds considerable cost to the higher cost of the device itself. However, the article did not state whether the users received training in how often to change either the surgical masks or the N95 respirators. If they did receive such training, it would be helpful to know if the trained auditors collected information regarding whether the nurses changed their masks or respirators at appropriate intervals.