Hello,I was part of a group that did an EBP project on mask wearing in neutropenic patients and then presented a poster at APHON a few years ago. At that time, the literature did not support surgical masks providing any real benefit for the neutropenic patient. They were not designed to keep things away from the person wearing the mask, they were designed to keep things inside the mask (droplets from healthcare providers) away from surgical sites. We found some small in vivo studies, and a lab based study that tested the different masks and protection from controlled particle concentrations in the enviornment.
The only possible benefit mentioned in any of the studies was, a mask indicates to other people the individual is sick, and that may make other people keep their distance. The mask may indirectly provide benefit by keeping sick people further away from immune compromised patients.
They did find some benefit in patients wearing N95 masks, especially in areas where construction was happening within the hospital. But then there are problems with ensuring the correct fit. And since I also work in pedatrics and have been unable to locate pediatric sized N95 masks (and highly doubt most pediatric patients would tolerate them), that hasn't been implemented most places I have worked.Though even with the EBP project complete, not every where I have worked has changed their practice. Partly because people think it can't hurt to have patients wear the masks (although struggling with a screaming toddler who does not want anything on their face is the reason we started the EBP project in the first place). And partly beacuse some patients expect it because they've seen movies and such with cancer patients. And partly because the evidence isn't super strong in vitro (though does seem pretty strong in vivo.)RIght now where I work, we don't have a firm guideline, but most patients do not wear masks.