The study by Dr. Neil WM Orr states at the very beginning, “No masks were worn in one operating theater for six months. There was no increase in the incidence of wound infection.”
The study continues, “It would appear that minimum contamination can best be achieved by not wearing a mask at all” and that wearing a mask during surgery “is a standard procedure that could be abandoned. The conclusion is that the wearing of a mask has very little relevance to the well-being of patients undergoing routine general surgery and it is a standard practice that could be abandoned.” Read the full study here.
The abstract of this study by Dr. Th. Göran Tunevall says it all: “It has never been shown that wearing surgical face masks decreases postoperative wound infections. On the contrary, a 50% decrease has been reported after omitting face masks. The present study was designed to reveal any 30% or greater difference in general surgery wound infection rates by using face masks or not.”
The study concludes, “These results indicate that the use of face masks might be reconsidered. Masks may be used to protect the operating team from drops of infected blood and from airborne infections, but have not been proven to protect the patient operated by a healthy operating team.” In other words, wearing masks in public do nothing to protect other people from you if you’re sick. Read the full study here.
Dr. Marcus W. Skinner and Dr. Brett A. Sutton conducted a meta-analysis. They searched the Medline database using the index terms “surgical mask,” “anaesthetist,” and “infection control.” All original studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the English language were reviewed, with no restrictions on year of publication. Thirty-seven (37) suitable journal articles were obtained, reporting on altogether 44 studies published between 1905 and 2000.
The study concluded, “There is little evidence to suggest that the wearing of surgical face masks by staff in the operating theatre decreases postoperative wound infections. Published evidence indicates that postoperative wound infection rates are not significantly different in unmasked versus masked theatre staff. However, there is evidence indicating a significant reduction in post-operative wound infection rates when theatre staff are unmasked.”
Finally, the study states, “A decision to eliminate masks would generate much discussion. The evidence for discontinuing the use of surgical face masks would appear to be stronger than the evidence available to support their continued use.” Read the full study here.
Beder et al. set out to show “whether the surgeons’ oxygen saturation of hemoglobin was affected by the surgical mask or not during major operations.” Repeated measures, longitudinal and prospective observational studies were performed on 53 surgeons using a pulse oximeter pre and postoperatively.
The study revealed a decrease in the oxygen saturation of arterial pulsations (SpO2) and a slight increase in pulse rates compared to preoperative values in all surgeon groups. The decrease was more prominent in the surgeons aged over 35. Pulse rates of the surgeons increase and SpO2 decrease after the first hour. This early change in SpO2 may be either due to the facial mask or the operational stress.
In other words, wearing masks probably decreases your blood oxygen levels after only one hour, and increases pulse rates. Imagine what is happening after 8+ hours wearing masks. Read the full study: Postoperative wound infections and surgical face masks: A controlled study.
Examination of the literature revealed much of the published work on the matter to be quite dated and often studies had poorly elucidated methodologies. As a result, we recommend caution in extrapolating their findings to contemporary surgical practice. However, overall there is a lack of substantial evidence to support claims that facemasks protect either patient or surgeon from infectious contamination. More rigorous contemporary research is needed to make a definitive comment on the effectiveness of surgical facemasks.
In the medical field where common practice can so easily become dogma, it is necessary to recognise the constant need to maintain a healthy skepticism towards established beliefs and to periodically re-evaluate and critically assess their scientific merit. Read the full study here.
Note: BMC Infectious Diseases is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of infectious and sexually transmitted diseases in humans, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology.
“Medical masks are commonly used in health care settings to protect healthcare workers (HCWs) from respiratory and other infections. Airborne respiratory pathogens may settle on the surface of used masks layers, resulting in contamination. The main aim of this study was to study the presence of viruses on the surface of medical masks.”
“Conclusion: Respiratory pathogens on the outer surface of the used medical masks may result in self-contamination. The risk is higher with longer duration of mask use (> 6 h) and with higher rates of clinical contact. Protocols on duration of mask use should specify a maximum time of continuous use, and should consider guidance in high contact settings. Viruses were isolated from the upper sections of around 10% samples, but other sections of masks may also be contaminated. HCWs should be aware of these risks in order to protect themselves and people around them.”
By 26.10.2020 the registry had been used by 20,353 people. In this publication we report the results from the parents, who entered data on a total of 25,930 children. The average wearing time of the mask was 270 minutes per day. Impairments caused by wearing the mask were reported by 68% of the parents. These included irritability (60%), headache (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), less happiness (49%), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44%), malaise (42%) impaired learning (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%). See full study here.