Brief Cost Analysis of Surgical Personal Protective Equipment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kandice A. Kapinos, Jordan R. Salley, Andrew Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study aimed to compare the costs incurred and saved from universal use of N95 respirators with surgical masks for operating room providers in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We built a decision analytic model to compare direct medical costs of healthcare workers (HCWs) infected with COVID-19 during operating room procedures from expected transmission when using an N95 respirator relative to a surgical mask. We also examined quarantine costs. Results: Results varied depending upon prevalence and false-negative rates of tests, but if N95 respirators reduce transmission by 2.8%, prevalence is at 1%, and testing yields 20% false negatives, providers should be willing to pay an additional $0.64 per HCW for the additional protection. Under this scenario, approximately 11 COVID-19 cases would be averted among HCWs per day. Conclusions: Potential savings depend on disease prevalence, rate of asymptomatic patients with COVID-19, accuracy of testing, the marginal cost of respirators, and the quarantine period. We provide a range of calculations to show under which conditions N95 respirators are cost saving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1320
Number of pages4
JournalValue in Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • decision analysis
  • healthcare worker
  • personal protective equipment
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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