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



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.


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 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.


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.


Kandice A. Kapinos Jordan R. Salley Andrew Day

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