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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.2010.195

To the Editor: Dr Loeb and colleagues1 reported that use of surgical masks compared with N95 respirators among nurses resulted in noninferior rates of laboratory-confirmed influenza. However, their conclusion that the 2 devices offer similar respiratory protection may be inaccurate. The reported influenza rates reflect much more than efficacy of the devices evaluated. Hence, altering clinical practice based on the study's conclusions may expose health care workers and patients to unnecessary risks.