The effectiveness of surgical face masks: what the literature shows

The use of surgical face masks is synonymous with acute health care and is so deeply ingrained that to question it would have been unheard of until recently. However, in some practices the use of masks has been abandoned over recent decades, for example when dressing wounds. Both the use and withdrawal of surgical face masks has occurred in an ad hoc manner that is incompatible with evidence-based practice. This article will discuss the available evidence.