COVID-19 Supply Chain FAQs–Your Questions Answered

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, ECRI is closely monitoring the latest information and answering questions to help protect healthcare workers and patients. Get answers to your frequently asked questions relating to supply chain concerns.

If we can assist your organization in the battle against COVID-19, whether or not you are a current member, please contact us today at

Cyber Security

Are there resources available to assist rapid rollout of telehealth technology? Free training to maximize and encourage the use of this technology?

Useful resources on telehealth include:


What precautions should the clinical engineering team and service providers take to ensure the safety of Biomed staffs? Also, what is the role and responsibilities of clinical engineering regarding COVID-19?

  • Make sure that equipment is properly decontaminated in a manner that will not cause damage. Work with your suppliers and infection preventionists to ensure that your equipment is properly cleaned and disinfected per policy and manufacturers’ recommendations. This must be done between uses/patients, when leaving clinical care areas for service or maintenance, and when entering your facility (e.g., returning from external servicing or newly purchased/rented/borrowed).
  • Protect your staff with proper PPE and training if they are interacting with equipment – as stated below, it’s safest to assume that all equipment is contaminated
  • Maintain a good inventory and equipment distribution plan, so that you know that devices are in the right place for patient care.

What decontamination steps/procedures should the BioMed engineers follow to be safe from infection?

To protect your staff, it's safest to assume that incoming equipment is contaminated, whether it comes from outside your facility or even from a patient care area. Make sure that PPE, materials and space are available to enforce cleaning and disinfecting of incoming equipment per policy, especially in areas like ED or OR where equipment may enter the facility.

What approach does ECRI advise for handling an aerosol-generating procedure involving confirmed/suspected patients? Procedures like bipap, CPR, and open suction could spread aerosol into air.

If you are treating a contagious or suspected contagious patient, full isolation in a negative pressure isolation room is the best option, regardless of whether procedures are likely to create aerosols—a patient's cough alone is enough to spread the virus.

Supply Chain

When do providers anticipate being able to acquire PPE from traditional suppliers?

Providers are anticipating that it will take weeks to months before they are able to acquire PPE from traditional suppliers.

How common is price gouging for PPE supplies?

55% of member providers are experiencing price gouging.

What are some of the common hurdles when engaging non-traditional suppliers?

  • Allocation of product
  • Price Gouging, Shipping Delays
  • Fraudulent Product

What are the top three reasons why providers opt not to engage with a non-traditional supplier?

  • Unsure if the company is reputable
  • Excessive upfront payment required
  • Excessive price per unit

When comparing/contrasting non-traditional PPE suppliers what are the top three areas providers are considering?

  • Functional Equivalence
  • FDA approval
  • Cost Per Unit

What are the top three PPE product categories that providers are not experiencing out of stock or shortages?

The top three PPE product categories in stock are:

  • Exam Gloves
  • IV Solutions
  • Airway Clearance Units

What are the top three PPE product categories that providers are experiencing out of stock and shortages?

The top three PPE product categories experiences out of stock and shortages are:

  • Isolation Gowns
  • N-95 Respirators
  • Surgical Masks

Is there any information that ECRI has received regarding re sterilization of PPE equipment?

Yes, please refer to ECRI’s COVID-19 Resource Center and Lab Webcast: Device Guidance Series.

Is there any information that ECRI has received regarding re sterilization of PPE equipment?

Yes, please refer to ECRI’s COVID-19 Resource Center and Lab Webcast: Device Guidance Series.

Is ECRI tracking any non-traditional suppliers for PPE products?

Yes, the non-traditional supplier list can be found on to ECRI’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

Are we seeing shortages of products beyond PPE?

Yes, shortages are occurring for the following items: test kits, swabs, nasal swabs, breathing circuits, forehead thermometers, universal transfer media, and IV extension sets.

Can Level 3 surgery/procedure masks be used instead of N95 masks?

No, Level 3 surgical masks should not be used as a replacement for N95 masks. Please follow the CDC guidelines found here:

Can you please guide us to where to find the list of n95 suppliers on the website?

Yes, ECRI offers a go-to directory of alternative suppliers organized by equipment type.

Is anyone else seeing some vendors raising prices on PPE equipment as more shortages are announced?

We haven't seen price increases to date with our members' incumbent vendors, but increased prices are likely with new vendors. ECRI will be trending on a go-forward basis. If you see price–gauging you should report it to your state’s attorney general; their offices are investigating these claims.

What information can you provide regarding personnel in medical device manufacturing infecting products that are used in healthcare institutions? Should a baseline screening be done to determine if asymptomatic carriers are shedding virus on medical products that will be used on patients, especially those with at higher risk for Covid-19 mortality?

While single-use items marketed as sterile or clean can be trusted to be so while still in their protective packaging, incoming capital equipment should be assumed to be contaminated and be properly cleaned and disinfected during incoming inspection.

Has anyone seen issues with employees taking home hand sanitizer and other supplies?

Higher than normal shrinkage rates on PPE products have been reported to ECRI.


Does ECRI have plans to produce additional education and materials relating to COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, ECRI staff continues to focus its efforts on providing healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations with the most current information on COVID-19. Please visit ECRI's COVID-19 Response Center and Events page for new information and future webinars.

Return to the ECRI COVID-19 Resource Center