A procedure mask is a medical device regulated by the FDA and is best for everyday use or for performing routine visits and patient procedures outside the operating room. They are standard issue and meant for routine applications to reduce transmission of contaminants via respiratory secretions, fluids or other debris. For example, a procedure mask would not be suitable for someone performing surgery, but is suitable for preventing the spread of germs by talking, coughing, or sneezing. Unlike surgical masks, procedure masks have earloops and can be worn without a surgical cap.
A surgical mask is used inside the operating room or other sterile procedure areas to protect the patient environment against contamination. It also protects the wearer from contaminated fluid or debris generated during the procedure. Surgical masks have ties so that they can be adjusted for a closer and more secure fit, and are tied over top of a surgical cap or a bouffant cap.
Like procedure masks, surgical masks are best for prevention against fluids but are not meant for protection against airborne contaminants, although they do provide a tighter fit than procedure masks.