Surgical masks were first developed to minimize the risk of patients‘ wounds being infected with micro-organisms transmitted from doctors. Modern surgical masks are intended to protect both the patient and doctor from new and&or drug-resistant pathogens that are transmitted through blood or other body fluids.

There are three levels of mask protection as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials medical mask protection standards. Level 3 surgical masks provide maximum barrier protection in any situation where there is potential for exposure to heavy levels of sprays, fluids or aerosols and is recommended to ensure operating room safety procedures. These masks should always be used in a surgical setting particularly where there is a possibility of splattering of blood or other bodily fluids. It should be used in combination with protective eyewear to ensure eyes are kept clear of blood and other fluid splash.